All entries for Thursday 11 October 2007

October 11, 2007

Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist

1 out of 5 stars


I’m not interested in the altered line-up of this band, which has been the subject of endless debate in reviews and online forums: I don’t care if the absence of D’Arcy or James Iha disqualifies this as a ‘true’ Pumpkins album. To be honest, I’m glad to see the back of Iha, who threatened to destroy the worth of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by putting a song on it that ended, There’s a love that God puts in your heart. D’Arcy I am fairly indifferent to, knowing little about her other than that she gets her rack out in the liner notes for Adore.

My focus, rather, is on the trajectory of Billy Corgan’s songwriting output. The trend has been downward since 1995: a mediocre ‘mellow’ Pumpkins album, a patchy, Gothic concept-album, Machina, that didn’t quite reach the heights of the Pumpkins’ best, a Zwan album with a handful of good songs, a diabolical solo effort, a book of tortuous poetry entitled Blinking with Fists, and now this.

And now this.

Zeitgeist is a droning bore of a record. The only thing about it that stands out is that, remarkably, Corgan’s vocals are more irritating than on earlier records. This is due to his decision to overdub some harmonious ahh-ing on a few tracks: OK if you are Mark Lanegan or Dave Grohl; not so if you possess the most nasal voice in rock.

Kafka would be proud, he bleats.

Most songs on this record are nondescript – ‘Doomsday Clock’, ‘Bleeding the Orchid’, ‘That’s the Way (My Love Is)’ and more pass like a Show of Spectres without leaving much of an impression. ‘Tarantula’ might have been a great song was it not ruined by its confusing structure of post- and pre-choruses in no coherent arrangement that I can discern. And, of course, the Nasal Overdubs.

Corgan: short a few mil

There are reasons, too, to hate this record. To get all of the tracks you need to buy four different versions of Zeitgeist. Not that, on hearing this one, I would want to.

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