The Smashing Pumpkins
Zeitgeist


3.5
great

Review

by John Cruz USER (88 Reviews)
July 4th, 2007 | 160 replies | 42,266 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Smashing Pumpkins return with Zeitgeist, an uneven but more then acceptable "first" effort from Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin, sans d'Arcy, Iha, or even Auf der Maur

Time catches up to everything eventually, and it has caught up with the Smashing Pumpkins. Once venerable alt rockers inspired by everything from punk to metal to arena rock, the former Pumpkins were a sight to behold and hear. Loud, bombastic, and delicate all at once, the old Pumpkins occupied a time and space that was wide open and welcoming to new ideas in rock music. And they exploited that space for all it was worth. With Zeitgeist, the Smashing Pumpkins 6th official studio album, singer / songwriter Billy Corgan (make no mistake, this is a Corgan album) has brought his band kicking and screaming into the here and now, glancing all the while at the glory he left behind.

And what he left behind is what we get first from Zeitgeist, as the hard charging Doomsday Clock announces the return of the Smashing Pumpkins. To say this is classic Pumpkins bearing Corgan's standard hard rock riffs (he plays all guitar and bass parts on the album) and Jimmy Chamberlin's explosive drums would be a fair statement, but also a little misleading, as the next few songs go to show.

7 Shades Of Black is a similar hard rock tune, and could have easily been on the last Papa Roach album. And its early on that any Pumpkin fan will begin to notice how this isn't the Smashing Pumpkins, exactly, or even an evolution of the band. This is a reconstruction, something the same, yet different. 7 Shades Of Black, however loud and raucous, sounds clean, it's production crisp and tight, it's rough edges honed down from what it might have been when Corgan led this band in its heyday. And Bleeding The Orchid, which sounds like a stab at Mellon Collie era Pumpkins, comes off more like a leftover from that time then anything fresh. It's not bad, it just sounds dated. For a group which used to excite with each new recording, this overly familiar song is both blessing and curse for the new Pumpkins, with seemingly one foot in the past and one pointing reluctantly to the future.

For those who feared the album would play out like an album long Tarantula, the first single, well, your fears have come to fruition. This is exactly what the Smashing Pumpkins are today. No longer the young alt rock outsiders, they are now simply a really good hard rock band doing what comes best to them, Billy's poetic / artistic pretensions notwithstanding. And the album works best when sticking to this formula. Songs like (Come on) Let's Go with it's bouncy melody and fuzz tone guitar recalls Siamese Dream period Pumpkins, and like much of the album features solid songwriting. It's just not very interesting songwriting. The best of it shows up early in the lush That's The Way (My Love Is), and if Corgan could have rose to this level more often on Zeitgeist, whatever shortcomings the album has could have been easier overcome. As said before, best to stick with the hard rock formula that makes up the bulk of these songs.

Another problem with the album is it lacks a center to bring it all together. Billy's lyrical themes (apocalyptic visions, lorn love, hope, angst, melancholy, etc) remain the same as ever, but they're all thrown together here and sit somewhat uncomfortably alongside one another. And the middle of the album threatens to lose the listener altogether, as the standard hard rock tune Starz mingles alongside the epic ten minute Sabbath / Zeppelin tribute United States and spare, underdeveloped Neverlost. Their is nothing wrong with the songs individually, but traversing the hopeful, bleak, and romantic across these three middle tunes and the album slumps, giving the listener little to grasp or make sense of. Standard Smashing Pumpkins? Perhaps. But also something which could have been considered further when assembling this record.

Like a lot of records by bands torn apart and put back together something different, Smashing Pumpkins sixth official studio release is a little something new, something old, and something not like the Smashing Pumpkins at all. At it's best it recalls the glory years of the Pumpkins, if not entirely, and offers some new sounds to bring it all up to date. At it's least it sounds like a cheap rip off of a once great band now reduced to two original members, one of which for all intents and purposes is the Smashing Pumpkins. Just as always Billy Corgan is in complete control, and that is a good and bad thing for Zeitgeist. However, there is enough of the good to call this album one of the better rock releases of the year thus far.

Still, time exacts a toll on all of us, and it has taken a toll on Corgan and the band he calls Smashing Pumpkins. Yet through it all Billy Corgan remains a talented and fascinating figure in popular music and has managed to make a good album from the torn and frayed pages of his past. And while not enough to stand among the best the Pumpkins have to offer, Zeigeist nonetheless stands fairly well on it's own, Smashing Pumpkins or no. Not bad for picking up the pieces and gluing them back together.



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user ratings (885)
Chart.
2.7
average
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • wpstout (3.5)
    Great mainstream rock album, just as expected....

    Freddy Thomas (4.5)
    A welcome return to great form after 7 years for Smashing Pumpkins, despite only having 2 ...

    red0 (1.5)
    A dry, stale, listener-fatigued album with a spotty track lineup and little replay value....

    Attention Whore (1)
    An 'Open Letter' to Billy Corgan......

  • Porter W. Richards (4)
    Zeitgeist's Re-Release adds three excellent songs, fixes some track lineup miscues, and al...

    dudeinthepassinglane (3)
    Zeitgeist, the new album from Billy Corgan's new Pumpkins, is a good one, but probably sho...

    myriad (4)
    IT GOEZ BOM BM TSHH DADAD DERRR EDERRRR!!!...

    angelfyre (2)
    A feeble attempt at a groundbreaking rock reunion...

  • BlindWriting (4)
    Corgan and his longtime partner Chamberlin show their chops with a strong, dynamic new eff...

    Porter W. Richards (4)
    Smashing Pumpkins are back-in full swing, despite the controversy with an excellent and un...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Fort23
July 4th 2007



2474 Comments


Not a bad review, though I'm not into the Smashing pumpkins, so I dont know, I might check it out.

samthebassman
July 4th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, I have a copy of this but havent given it a spin yet, Im a bit nervous now though.

JohnXDoesn't
July 4th 2007



1267 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

don't be nervous its a great album. just not a great album. i was going to rate it a 3, but overall i thought it made the cut for a 3.5This Message Edited On 07.04.07

MrKite
July 4th 2007



5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, I might not get this because it'll be high priced.

JohnXDoesn't
July 4th 2007



1267 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ yeah its also coming in several different versions (nothing radical, just bonus cuts, etc) depending on where you buy

Two-Headed Boy
July 4th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, man, as usual.

Really really really really looking forward to this. I like Tarantula, and have heard a few others, "For God and Country" being the best.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 4th 2007



3995 Comments


I'm actually really excited for this.

JohnXDoesn't
July 4th 2007



1267 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

its a solid effort. i think opinions will differ depnding on your taste and perspective. some will like some things about it others won't, and vice versa. but overall it is a welcome returnThis Message Edited On 07.04.07

The Door Mouse
July 4th 2007



2092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is okay. Not as good as Siamese of couse.

StrizzMatik
July 4th 2007



3176 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've been playing this nonstop for the last couple of days. Really really solid but no Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie. It totally sh*ts all over their last few albums, IMO.

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

astrel
July 5th 2007



2614 Comments


Yeah, I agree that this album is good, but not great. Jimmy is still kicking ass behind his set.

blackmilk
July 5th 2007



584 Comments


This album is boring. Corgan really needs to learn how arrange vocal harmonies better, because they practically ruin most of the songs.

StrizzMatik
July 5th 2007



3176 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I gotta say this album is really Jimmy's show at times... he shines throughout. "Tarantula" is the only song Corgan really rips on.

Cravinov13
July 5th 2007



3854 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I borrowed this from a friend and I'll be honest, it's a piece of sh*t. They should of stayed broken up to preserve their greatness.

samthebassman
July 5th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The track "United States" is badass, the breakdown sounded as though it could have come from Lateralus.

pulseczar
July 5th 2007



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Meh. Production and vocal mixing butchered the album. Still kind of good.

samthebassman
July 5th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nah, fuck it, this is great, I'm loving it on first listen.

Apocalyptic Raids
July 5th 2007



810 Comments


awesome review. haven't head anything besides Tarantula off this, which wasn't too bad. I might get around to getting the rest.

Kage
July 5th 2007



1173 Comments


Can't wait to hear this. I'm glad you reviewed it positively.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
July 5th 2007



2125 Comments


I love the Pumpkins, but I'm not really interested in this tbh. I just want a tour.



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