Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist

July 13, 2007

Having waited for this album for so long, I find it completely necessary to give it a thorough review, no more, no less. I’m not going to meander for set amount of long winded paragraphs or give it just two cents and leave it be. I remember looking at the website that was billycorgan.com for so long, when it was just a shriveled remnant of what was left of the artistic endeavors of our said celebrity himself. And then I remember reading the add in the newspaper straight from Billy Corgan, about reforming the band. This excited me on many levels. Possibly my favorite band reuniting, with the hopes of a new album and tour? Wonderful. I joked to myself, that I would be sitting by my computer monitor for years, as the seasons reeled outside my window. What is most unfortunate is that this actually happened. I figured it would be worth it in the end, to finally hear this album. What severely disappointed me was the absence of James Iha and D’arcy Wretsky in the group, who were replaced by…I don’t know, faceless pawns. I still held onto some hope that this album would truly be good in the end and justify all the pain and anxiety that preceded it.

Alas, my friends, I am at the pinnacle of disappointment. While this album should have kicked ass to hell and back, it just doesn’t cut it. The clues all add up. The fact that James and D’arcy are gone were the death spell, for sure, and this album has none of the spirit that the original lineup had. It proves that Billy and Jimmy are not all that is required to be the Smashing Pumpkins, and only half of the puzzle just doesn’t cut it. Another discouraging clue was the album cover, which is just as cheesy as most of the music has ended up being. Which is the albums problem. About half of it sucks horribly because it tries to be revelatory and meaningful. Not that previous Pumpkins albums weren’t, but none of them preached anything. Personal sentimental value came with the previous albums, and this is packaged with nothing but poor production. It just doesn’t sound right. The guitars are too buzzed over, and in no way beautiful like they used to be. And Billy’s voice sounds almost timid despite the fact that he is screaming. This is a generic album. Freeze-dried. And it feels just about as personal as The Future Embrace. And we all know how…goddamn impersonal that album was.

I don’t want to make it sound like this album does nothing right. To be fair, the first five songs are killer. Tarantula is a decent single, but unfortunately the weakest out of the albums good songs. In any case, it was probably worth it just for the awesome timing of the cover of the single, which is a scantily dressed Paris Hilton. You all know what happened a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty much the most ridiculous situation our fair nation has seen. Paris Hilton gets let out of jail for a day and you would have thought that some building blew up or the president was shot at. What felt like every channel on TV had faint blurred photos of Paris Hilton and rumors abash the screen. Paris Hilton is not a national crisis. This is probably part of what Zeitgeist is trying to say. Something about how impersonal our nation is, or has been since 9/11, or maybe just how downright ridiculous the country is now, or at least the people in it. The day that Mudhoney got political, people thought the world was going to spiral out into the endless abyss, but they had no idea that someday, for gods sake, the Smashing Pumpkins would get political. In any case, the first five songs are great. 7 Shades of Black is a great, almost dirty metal riff-fest, and a personal favorite. The rest are all more than great and probably could have stood as singles. But everything from track six onward is, in a word, cheesy. Billy Corgan seems to have forgotten that on his last release, he had a song that unnecessarily ended with a “z.” Starz is not the only song that has a dull and generic hook that just doesn’t really stand tall at all. Even the albums attempt at an SMP epic is flubbed pretty badly with United States. The rest are simply not worth mentioning. Except maybe for Neverlost and one other one, maybe. It’s a bad, horribly shaky album.

For those of you who skipped to this last paragraph to see how I felt about the album in short, the bottom line is, Billy Corgan has lost his edge. It makes sense though. When I think about it, the Pumpkins albums have actually gotten progressively worse through time, the only exception being Machina II which was probably better than Machina. Which really means nothing considering the first four were all so utterly fantastic that they could only be chosen between from personal preference. Using the word “worse” in their wake is a bit of a crime. Machina is the only one that stuck out like a sore thumb, because it was marginally worse than it’s predecessors. To put it plainly, when you listen to Zeitgeist, you will start to realize how great Machina is. And I mean that, sincerely. I can’t stress enough how good the first five songs are. But they really just played their best cards first. Everything else is graced only by scattered quality. The theme is tired. It’s poorly produced. It’s really only worth it to fans. Insert witty aphorism here.

One comment

  1. I aggree with everything you say. When you listen to Zeitgeist and then Siamese Dream the difference in quality is enormous.. I too was not that impressed when Machina came out but do appreciate it a lot more having heard Zeitgeist.Billys voice is such a disappointment today. He seems to have lost both the qualities of his voice that attracted me to the band in the beginning. The dreamy softness of his delivery of songs most evident on Siamese dream and even in later albums such as in the song ‘Innosence’ from Machina II, and in contrast the raw angry screaming voice full of emotion that is sadly lacking in Zeitgeist..

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