Billy Corgan’s greatest fear, I believe, can be summed up in one word: irrelevance. He got his first taste of that on June 12, 2005, when he released his first solo disc, cryptically entitled “TheFutureEmbrace.” Prior to that misstep, Corgan was frontman of the worldwide sensation Smashing Pumpkins, a band whose contributions helped shaped rock in the 1990s. But for a short period, Corgan, who fancied himself a poet and an artist, looked more like a wannabe college art-student who believes his ramblings profound. Thus, he took out a full page page ad in The Chicago Tribune telling the world his intention to reform The Smashing Punpkins.
Fast forward two years, and here were are, mere weeks before Smashing Pumpkins’ album 6 (or, arguably, 7), “Zeitgeist,” is released. We barely know who is featured on this album beyond Billy and his ever-present cohort, Jimmy Chamberlain, who arguably adds as much to the immediately identifiable Pumpkins’ sound as Billy himself (we learned within the last week that SP now features new members Jeff Schroeder on guitar and Ginger Reyes on bass). This month, the first single, “Tarantula,” was released to radio, and subsequently, the Internet via iTunes. So, what is the verdict? What do we think?
As a huge Pumpkins’ fan dating abck to 1993 and Gish, I have to tell you, my expectations were low. Billy and crew grew increasingly experimental in the last few years, and the final three albums, if you include, Machina II, featured a much different sound than the Pumpkins of years past. Some called it more mature, some called it electronica, others hated it. I have appreciated every album in its own way, although my personal heyday for the Pumpkins’ was Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie.
So imagine my surprise when I heard the new single… and liked it! It sounds like the Pumpkins of old! It actually kinda rocks. The lyrics are mostly unpretenious and the sounds is classic but not dated. Some lyrics are simple and to-the-point tender: “I wanna be there when you’re happy, I wanna love you when you’re sad.” Then a more Pumpkin-y ending with the repeated “I don’t want to be alone!” over and over.
I don’t know what the full length album will bring, but I’m hoping that The Smashing Pumpkins can inject some much needed energy into what, thus far, is a very weak musical landscape in 2007. As long as the music industry keeps offering us neutral foolishness like Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, and silly (c)rap with titles like “Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” that insult our intelligence, we will be searching for something worthwhile. Listeners aren’t fooled by pallete cleaners like The only quesiton is: will the Pumpkins be the ones to bring it?