The Smashing Pumpkins
Zeitgeist


2.0
poor

Review

by angelfyre USER (15 Reviews)
July 25th, 2007 | 35 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A feeble attempt at a groundbreaking rock reunion

William Patrick Corgan is no stranger to band failings, mishaps and breakups, having been through the demise all three of his former groups, including first band The Marked, and all under so-called “cloudy conditions.” He has however also tasted widespread success with Smashing Pumpkins, which sold more than 18 million albums and had multiple top singles. It should come as somewhat of a shock, then, that his latest record, albeit heavily hyped, probably won’t be enough to rekindle the attention or fanbase the Smashing Pumpkins held onto for a large chunk of the ‘90s.

The title of the latest Smashing Pumpkins release, Zeitgeist, is far more than appropriate, but probably not for the reasons Corgan was thinking. The word is German in language origin and literally translated means “time spirit or ghost,” or, more loosely, “the spirit of the age,” and it symbolizes the intellectual and cultural climate of an era. Given the album's song subjects and lyrics, Billy Corgan was probably aiming for the latter. However, Zeitgeist looks to be the singer/songwriter/guitarist’s attempt at taking a band that everyone thought to be a long time dead and revive it.

Well, almost.

Smashing Pumpkins released its sixth studio album on Reprise Records (how appropriate) on July 10, with first single “Tarantula” already in heavy radio rotation. This is the group’s first album since the 2000 disbandment, minus one James Iha, one D’arcy Wretzky, and one Melissa Auf der Maur.

This is not the Pumpkins that fans “Adore”-d this past decade. In fact, Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who joined Corgan for his short-lived supergroup side project, Zwan, are all that remain of the original group. They are also the sole performers on the multi-dimensional record (easy enough when artists in the studio and can record one musical layer of a song at a time). It would appear that Corgan thinks he’s the basis of Smashing Pumpkins, and he’s probably right. After all, who else has that signature awkward wailing geek-goth voice? Corgan’s demeanor reeks of self-assurance bordering on conceit, while his voice sounds like an unsure, insecure and humble plea for attention.
In fact, he could probably go solo if he took the time to learn the drums. Then he could get rid of Chamberlin and rename the band Smashing Pumpkin.

Sarcasm aside, Corgan stuck to a five-man formula for the group’s inevitable live tour, which a guy and two girls joined the duo for. Jeff Schroeder assumes his spot as back-up guitarist to Corgan’s lead, Ginger Reyes takes her spot as bassist and Lisa Harriton is on keyboards, with all three providing backing vocals as well. The Pumpkins frontman has received widespread criticism from those who feel he is just looking for fame and money in reforming the famous band with only one other original member. He’s also received praise and rave reviews from some who downplay the absence of veteran members and instead focus on Corgan’s standout songwriting and adherence to the group’s signature electronica-metal-shoegazer sound.

The latest record’s White Stripes-style duo musical method paired with airy, polished backgrounds that sound like they could have been influenced by A Perfect Circle as well as pointless, Tool-sounding repetitive percussion-heavy intro and mid-song instrumental interludes (a la seventh track “United States”) doesn’t create a revolutionary new sound, just one that sounds a little ripped off – so un-Pumpkinlike. Corgan even begins to sound a little like Jack White in some spots on the record. It seems as if different subject matter is weighing on Corgan’s mind nowadays. On this record, he abandons his longtime favorite subjective angsty, poetic and emotional inner confessions in favor of militant assessments on religion, politics and the state of our union for many of the songs.

“For God and country I’ll fight, for God and country I’ll die, for God and country my soul is alive,” Corgan confesses on the eleventh track, aptly titled “For God and Country.” The album cover, a blood-red illustration of the Statue of Liberty hip-high in water, is even a stark allusion to global warming. “United States,” a nearly ten-minute long rant that goes through several musical stages, has the potential of pushing the envelope to its breaking point but doesn’t quite make it. Corgan continually repeats the idea of “revolution” against a background of ironically familiar-sounding bassy percussion beats and tired, repetitive guitar riffs. A revolution it’s not.

Unlike with virtually every past Pumpkins album, particularly Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Zeitgeist is without any particularly standout tracks. The album has none of the screechy, messy guitars of “Zero” or signature screaming emotive outbursts of “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” or even the soft-spoken inspirational rhythms of “Tonight, Tonight.” In fact, the over-played rhythmic headbanger’s anthem “Tarantula,” the song which is the most reminiscent of past Pumpkins, is markedly the best track on the record, which isn’t saying a whole lot. It sort of sounds like it might be the perfect tune for a cheesy quick step routine on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Track No. 2, "7 Shades of Black," is a slow and haunting track that reeks of bad love poetry ("fall in hate with me") set to a melodramatic, heavy and slack modern rock background that conversely borders on breathtaking. Corgan unleashes his inner guitar god on ninth track “Bring the Light” and tenth track “(Come On) Let’s Go!,” both catchy and almost instrumentally impressive, and both contenders for halfway decent tracks on the record. “Starz” is a welcome celestial departure from the prevalent political subject matter of many of the other songs (“born of love and cast in light, don’t you know we cannot die, we are stars, we are”), and a halfway decent, haunting tune that sounds a little like past single “Tonight, Tonight.”

Zeitgeist ends with “Pomp and Circumstances,” a sleepy, floaty, bass-heavy tune that would be perfectly at home on airport or elevator speakers, as with nonsensical jazzy, xylophone-tinged track “Neverlost.” Both are the spectral opposites of heavy, bursting-onto-the-scene ominous opening anthem “Doomsday Clock.”

Bottom line: Zeitgeist is a mediocre attempt at a groundbreaking comeback, and probably won’t revive the Pumpkins or sustain the group from another inevitable eventual breakup.

“I never felt so good and right, but tonight you’ll never need another sound…I never felt so real and loved and alive, no shadows follow me unsung,” Corgan wails on ninth track “Bring the Light.”

We’ll see.



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user ratings (912)
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!!!...

    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...

    John Cruz (3.5)
    Smashing Pumpkins return with Zeitgeist, an uneven but more then acceptable "first" effort...


Comments:Add a Comment 
hyperboleking
July 25th 2007


407 Comments


good review, pretty bad album from a pretty bad band.

BlindWriting
July 25th 2007


102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like this review and your points but I do disagree on many of them (i.e. see my review). Honestly, I was very surprised by how much I enjoy listening to this album.

HotSalvation
July 25th 2007


258 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nobody knows how good this album is.

that's all I'll say.

rockstar18
July 25th 2007


741 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like this album. Only track i can't listen to is For God and Country tho :S

Cravinov13
July 25th 2007


3854 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thank you for this review. This album sucks.

Two-Headed Boy
July 25th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's basically pure averageness all the way through, except for "That's the Way (My Love Is)". Good review.

tribestros
July 25th 2007


918 Comments


I negged your review for obvious reasons.

The reviews that complain about Smashing Pumpkins changing lineups and "its not the same band!" irritate me.

Bands change members all the time.

It doesn't matter.

Outside of that; it wasn't half bad. But big friggin deal they changed members.

Two-Headed Boy
July 25th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Why would you neg someone for that.

tribestros
July 25th 2007


918 Comments


Because you just can't give an album a 2 because they don't think the whole band is there.

It's really frustrating.

His defense to a 2 was "it doesn't sound like the Pumpkins."

It wasn't meant to; Billy Corgan said so himself. Its meant to catch new fans and recapture old fans. End of discussion.This Message Edited On 07.25.07

StrizzMatik
July 25th 2007


3229 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[quote=Me]OMG how many times does it need to be stated? Iha/D'Arcy never wrote or played ANYTHING on their albums, save for like five songs total in their entire catalogue. Iha/D'Arcy/Auf Der Maur were faces for a camera and that's about it. Corgan, and to a lesser extent Jimmy Chamberlain, ARE Smashing Pumpkins.

Siamese Dream was written and recorded almost completely by Corgan, except for drums, btw. "Mayonaise" was the only song Iha actually wrote for that record.[/quote]

That.

angelfyre
July 25th 2007


24 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I don't recall ever saying "it doesn't sound like the Pumpkins." Point out to me where I say that and your neg is justified.

P.S. I'm a "she."

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 25th 2007


6099 Comments


Yeah, I don't get what Tribestros and Strizz were getting off at. Probably your rating and the fact that you mention the band dismembering at all. This is a good review.

Lunarfall
July 25th 2007


3179 Comments


It's a good review, but this IS a good album.

tribestros
July 25th 2007


918 Comments


My rating?

I gave it a 3 you gave it a 2.

Not that much of a difference.

HumanCannonball
July 25th 2007


350 Comments


Loved their older stuff, but "Zeitgeist" just flat out sucks.

Good review btw.

tribestros
July 25th 2007


918 Comments


That's the Way (My Love Is), Tarantula and For God and Country may be some of their best recorded music in a long time.

By the way, the troll voting angelfire doesn't really bother me; just don't do it anymore or I will report it. I've already been banned for doing it myself; and it kind of pisses me off.This Message Edited On 07.25.07

angelfyre
July 26th 2007


24 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Wait, what?????

tribestros
July 26th 2007


918 Comments


Didn't you neg my Smashing Pumpkins Zeitgeist review?

When I posted that I negged your review, mine got negged in a couple of hours.

Concidence?

I'm sorry if I wrongly accused you.

StrizzMatik
July 26th 2007


3229 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was getting at the fact that the rating was seemingly due in part to Iha and the others not being involved with it... which if you read my quoted post, made no difference in the quality of the album. I still pos'd it, the review was well-written although I disagreed on some points.

angelfyre
July 26th 2007


24 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

*sigh* Okay guys, I reread my review, and didn't find anywhere in it where I was bashing the change in members. I merely pointed out the change. I did allude to Corgan's ego, but who can argue with that. The absence of other members didn't make a difference to me...had I not known about it I would have rated the album the same.

Sorry if I offended anyone.



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