Review Summary: Billy shuts everyone up with The Smashing Pumpkins' latest release. Turns out there's still some magic in that bald head of his.
Okay, everyone stop. Stop with the blind accusations and hate towards the new Pumpkins. No, they are not the original lineup and no, they do not sound a thing like it. And maybe for the better. Don't complain about it. Go into this album with a clear mind as if it's a completely different band. Only then will you see it's true brilliance. You must accept that the old Pumpkins are a thing of the distant past and look forward to what's left. What's left, you may ask? Well, Oceania is left, and it is Frickin' great. Hopefully there is more to come, I personally welcome anything new for this new lineup.
This album was incredibly anticipated. Well for me that is. Don't get me wrong, I too was a bit skeptical after Zeitgeist, but I went in with high expectations and confidence in Billy. I was not disappointed. Oceania is great. From the fade in of hard rocking opener "Quasar" to the emotional closer of "Wildflower", Oceania is an entertaining and ever unfolding piece of art. There is something for all fans here, and each idea is executed flawlessly. I did not expect the softness of a lot of the songs. Many songs are lead almost completely by quiet guitars and polite vocal melodies. Take the electronic style acoustic pop track "Pinwheels". With essentially no drums, it relies on Billy and his acoustic guitar backed with guitar fills and waves of synths to pull out every ounce of beauty. Another nice aspect of the softer songs are the impressive backing vocals by the new female bassist, Nicole. Very pretty and layered, they help the songs flow with ease. Despite the albums diversity, the whole project comes off eloquent even on first listen. Everything seems to fit very nice here. It's also without a doubt The Pumpkins most complex album to date. That may sound as if the album may come off as bloated or overthought, but it may be the opposite. In fact, a lot of these songs come straight from the heart of Billy and takes him back to his post-punk influenced roots. Songs like "Pale Horse" are undoubtedly influenced by Joy Division or other similar acts. Despite their similarities, I've never quite heard something like these songs here. Most certainly not like any past Pumpkins albums...
This album has a very progressive sound to it as well. Coming in at 9 minutes, the prog inspired and guitar driven epic, "Oceania" is arguably the finest track here. The climax balances itself on incredible guitar solos from both Billy and Jeff. The first two tracks are also very progressive sounding, mainly because of their strange tempos (For the Pumpkins) and structure changes. Track 2, is simply amazing. Track 10 is the one and only song that sounds very much like past pumpkins albums. It may make you happy to know that it sounds an awful lot like Siamese Dream. The fuzzy and dreamy guitars are heavily layered and Billy's vocals evoke catchy melodies. The drums are also very impressive. One could believe the amazing Jimmy Chamberlain was behind the kit during this album. The new guy has some serious abilities on the drums. Musically this may be the Pumpkins finest album, although I believe the lyrics may be lacking. Arguably his worst, in front of Zeitgeist of course. Close to every song has Billy saying "Love" around 10 times. This can make the ridiculously sappy album even sappier. You'll feel quite sticky by track 7, trust me. Anyways, the diversity of the songs keep the album highly enjoyable. once you hit track 4, the album dials back the distortion and replaces it with emotional, ballads of sorrow and sadness that feel strangely uplifting and encouraging. This continues for the most part until the Siamese Dream like "The Chimera" where the gorgeous gain and thickness of the record returns. All the guitars are huge and dreamy, drenched in fuzz and reverb that allows you to indulge yourself in its vast beauty. The bass does not get lost in the mix at all. In fact, it's louder than ever, and these bass lines are by far the best the Pumpkins have ever had. Period.
As your journey ends, the songs do not let up in greatness. The sound is so unique and infectious, that by track 13, your ears will crave more. Wether it be in the form of the mapped out riffage of "Panopticon" or the heavily layered and melodic "Inkless". You want more. The final song gently leads you out and the chills the album gave you slowly reside. Billy's voice is soft and interesting as you hear him gently repeat the lines "Oooh Wildflower, Oooh Wildflower". This album is amazing. Any doubters should just listen to the opening 5 tracks. Anyone stupid enough to dislike "Violet Rays" does not deserve to listen to this masterpiece, let alone any Pumpkins record. Please go listen to this. Never before have I heard an album that makes you feel a specific feeling more than Oceania. Cold. You will feel cold. From the beautiful verses of "Panopticon" all the way to the final seconds of the closer. It's not a bad cold either. More of a welcoming cold that completes you for an hour. Sonic healing brought to you by the new and re-vamped Pumpkins. Let's just forget about Zeitgeist for awhile, alright? Oceania makes Aaron Turner look like a jerk for having the same titles in his music as this Anyways, regardless of him being way before this. Welcome back to the top of the music world Smashing Pumpkins. We've needed you...
Top Tracks: In No Order
My Love Is Winter
(May seem like a lot of tracks, but those sum up the album)
Please comment. Criticism wanted.
Thanks for reading.