When we last left off, the Pumpkins were doing their farewell tour in 2000. After this we see the band break up, start up several different projects and collaborations before trying to reform in 2007 for another album. Corgan and Chamberlain would be the original members heard on Zeitgeist, the album that put a dagger in the heart of the old Smashing Pumpkins. Then in 2009, Chamberlain left the band to be replaced by a new drummer to match all the other new members that Corgan pulled together. At this point the idea of the Pumpkins for me were a joke as an ambitious 44 song cycle called Teargarden and Kaleidyscope was to be a massive vinyl-only set of releases every few months was announced; if you were still hanging on, it couldn’t have been by much.
In my first article, I talked about hearing some brand new material that would be part of an album within this song cycle that piqued my interest and sounded a revival. Well, here we are, Avid Reader, my last piece, and I’m here to say that Billy Corgan is back and he’s happy. Aside from the massive sound, crunch of guitars and drumming on the early albums, I also liked how sullen Corgan was and connected with part of that on some level. Then I grew up and Corgan must have realized that it was better to be happy cranking out tunes than trying to disarm folks.
This new album has all the sonics that I missed from the middle albums with stronger lyrics and optimism that comes out of nowhere. I would call this a new phase in the life of the band and I’m even more impressed by the folks backing him. Jeff Schroeder is an excellent guitarist, Nicole Florentine provides solid bass lines and backing vocals when needed while Mike Byrne gives the drums a different sound to make you realize he isn’t trying to be Chamberlain. The best part is that the band surges forward and not backward with boom that will have your head ringing.
If you don’t believe me: ‘Panopticon’, ‘Pale Horse’, ‘Wildflower’, ‘My Love is Winter’, ‘Inkless’ and ‘Quasar’ should take you back to the 90’s. Corgan is back and he might have fresh faces surrounding him but you can tell that this is for the better.
What have I realized here? I was wrong. Had I known the history 10 years ago then those other albums would have sounded better when I bought them, but I’m glad that I came back around to rediscover the new band. Billy, I’m sorry man and I hope you understand we all make mistakes, but I won’t doubt that you can still rock.