Review Summary: A destined-to-fail project is destined to fail, and Vol. 1 is just the first nail in the coffin.
Even the biggest Smashing Pumpkins fan out there today (you know there is one) knew this wasn't going to be so hot. Billy, his other band mates nowhere to be found, wasn't quite done. He had Chamberlin for a while, but after a terrible show in Chicago (I was actually there, he mocked the audience more than he played songs) he finally gave. Billy didn't know what to do. I think he wanted to do something new, never done before. To be creative. The idea for this "album" itself is pretty ridiculous to say the least, releasing 44 songs for free over the internet one at a time over three of four years. This can only go good, right?
I must admit, I actually got a bit excited when the only real redeemable track and the first of the four, "Song For A Son" came out. It's really something you didn't expect, a slow classic rock song with tasty guitar riffs and solos. The lyrics also shine well and sound, actually, heart-filled. I'm glad that Billy's voice took a turn for the better (probably the only thing that improved), singing less nasally and more actually singing. This song could also be described as an epic.
Unfortunately, this is the only good track of the four. The next released, "Widow Wake My Mind", feels worn and tired. Probably the weakest on this record. Although it has a catchy guitar riff, the lyrics are just horrible (he repeats "Widow Wake My Mind" three or four times, preceded by flat "oh, oh oh"'s). "Stitch In Time" isn't as bad, but it's boring and uninteresting, even after the first half minute. It just doesn't go anywhere. What you hear in the first ten seconds is what the rest of the four minutes of the song is like. I feel pretty neutrally about the lyrics to it, because they really don't mean anything at all (except maybe an apology for "Widow Wake My Mind"... think about it: "It's just a stitch in time/it's perfect, I don't mind"). The final track, "Astral Planes", is something different, with a more dark approach to writing. It's repetitive, to say the least, with only one line of lyrics and a bridge. The thing is, it doesn't become uninteresting, but genuinely catchy. It has distorted guitars with a pretty decent riff that blends well with Billy's vocal style. Although it's not that great of a song, it's a major improvement from the previous two.
In all, Vol. 1 comes off as generally uninteresting and without use. Billy needs to learn when to just throw the towel in, because most of his vocals sound tired and as he can't go any longer, but he's making himself do it. I am sure that the volumes to come will not be any better, and if so not in a major way. Although, as long as Billy keeps releasing them for free, I can't complain about trying them out.
Best to worst tracks:
Song For A Son
Stitch In Time
Widow Wake My Mind