Wednesday, October 12, 2011
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
If you are attending a Smashing Pumpkins show at which Billy Corgan is the sole survivor in 2011, you have undoubtedly already formulated an answer to the question that divides the band's modern fans: How many members does it take to maintain relevance? Your answer is not just "one," but "Billy Corgan," and you know better than to even think about "Disarm" or "1979." The rules of the game the band has run for years seemed to escape only one gentleman, who, like some Lone Masochistic Ranger, shouted in vain for "Tonight, Tonight" in the front row until he must have gone hoarse. If you are a Smashing Pumpkins fan in 2011, you either don't care or you have resigned yourself.
You've moved on to concept albums. Oceania, what Corgan has called "an album within an album," has rotated through several scheduled release dates at this point, and the band, always focused on new material, played four of its tracks in the sound spaces not occupied by "Muzzle" and "Cherub Rock." Immediately after the jarring emotion of "Siva" came "Oceania," a stunning but melancholy spiral that finds Corgan on the keyboard. The songs, particularly the title track, are lovely, flexible melodies less derivative of the band's font of undiluted agony than previous work.
In the meantime, it's hard to pick the correct verb for what Corgan does with his mouth. To say he wails would be at times too kind, at others too generous, and at others still even unfair -- but it's the closest approximation of the action that creates his wild but timid tone. Between songs, always tied together by a series of almost overwhelming instrumentation, the pace changes so quickly it's as if it was responding to emotion. Corgan is endlessly earnest, even in the strange moment in which he recited the alliterative lines of "Peter Piper" and "Sally Sells Seashells." "If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," he asked the crowd, waiting for some sort of response, "where the fuck are the peppers?"
Read it all here:
If anyone really wants Fancy Space People, please let me know and I'll post it.