Review Summary: While ambitious in scope, Corgan’s latest outing is searingly bloated, lethargic and the perfect sequitur to yet another forgettable concept venture.
It’s difficult not to admire Billy Corgan’s lust for the grandiose - ever since the blockbuster stylings of Siamese Dream to both the Mellon Collie and Machina projects, The Smashing Pumpkins have always subverted expectations. Corgan once stated the band is like ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’, an analogy that rings true to the joy of their earlier works. Cyr, the supposed Vol. 2 of the ‘Oh So Shiny’ concept is a complete misnomer, a misfire on nearly every cylinder and staggeringly devoid of the band’s trademark characteristics.
In the spirit of reinvention, this really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for hardened fans of the group - each album is incredibly disparate from one another. Cyr commits to a synth laden dynamic that never lets up, clocking in at a baffling 72 minutes and meanders at such a stilted pace that it leaves the mind to wander, a cardinal sin for any album. The now fan favourite Adore tonally shares its electronic sensibilities with Cyr, the former being far more sincere, compelling and wrought with turmoil throughout; Cyr is laced with ancient mythology, garbled subject matters and over indulgence.
It starts off rather promisingly with ‘The Colour of Love’, an opener that harkens back to the likes of Depeche Mode and The Cure. Corgan’s vocals are mixed in a more restrained manner complimented with a surprisingly determined tempo - it’s an amalgam of Corgan’s sharp song craft sensibilities and ear for a catchy hook. The album title ‘Cyr’ also offers more punch, complete with a synth lead that is admittedly quite danceable, new territory for a band with 11 albums under their belt. While lyrical anomalies such as ‘tangents vex the whorl’ and ‘of sacred dawning and sloe-sloe eyes’ are awkward in both delivery and gravitas, it does little to detract from the song’s appeal.
There are a handful of second half tracks such as Purple Blood and Telegenix that utilise the gothic electronic atmosphere to its advantage, the latter debatably the best song on the album. Seductive in its nature with a rousing chorus, this is what is deemed expected from Corgan who is typically attracted to the grandiose, the drama if you will.
And yet this is completely absent on the rest of the record. At its worst, the album is a non-event, a mere rice cake husk of an album that is too obsessed with its parade of overblown folly to create any sense of cohesion. When you listen to Mellon Collie, their first double record outing, there are stakes at risk. It was an attempt to completely differentiate the band from the grunge movement that was slowly dissipating - it was a huge statement that still sounds relevant today. This is the anti Mellon Collie in many ways - for some the very subdued nature of this record could be its draw. For the rest, Cyr is an effortlessly crafted concept in the worst possible way - nonsensical lyrical content, bland compositions and songs that simply fail to gauge any sense of reaction, crushing disappointment aside.
All is left is a vacant stare into some weird bubble of existentialism, the very antithesis of what 2020 needs. Nothing more than word salad, Cyr is a pretty unremarkable stain on the ever decreasing quality which is The Smashing Pumpkins’ catalogue. Maybe Pavement were right all along.
The Colour of Love