What a difference nearly 20 years makes.
Plus having the original supporting cast helps. At least most of the supporting cast.
At any rate, the Smashing Pumpkins seem to have found a new direction with three of the four original members together again and the solid new album release Shiny and Oh So Bright, VOL. 1 / No Past. No Future. No Sun. out today, their first record together since 2000 and the band’s 10th overall.
Arguably, the band has received more press this year since their 90s heyday thanks to the massive The Shiny and Oh So Bright tour earlier in 2018 that got founding members – singer, guitarist Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain – back together (original bass guitarist D’arcy Wretsky is not with the band instead replaced by long-time guitarist Jeff Schroeder).
Though Corgan carried on with Pumpkins in 2006, picking up Schroeder along the way in 2007, whatever spark he tried lighting faded pretty quickly after seemingly floundering a bit on some rather curious releases. He never managed to recapture the grandeur that propelled the band to one of the biggest acts of the 1990s. So, now with a new album and what feels like not only a positive outlook but forward momentum with Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. Smashing Pumpkins appear poised to reenter the mainstream.
But does Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. offer a return to form? Not really. More like a new beginning without losing the touch that made Smashing Pumpkins a smash in the first place.
The album blends hard rocking songs featuring heavy guitar and fast chords with slower paced, melody filled tracks that stay focused and keep you immersed. Smashing Pumpkins have shed their 90s roots and sound renewed and refreshed while retaining their tone. Or perhaps, recapturing the tone that endeared them to so many.
- Knights of Malta – Easy going with an ataraxic melody.
- Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts) – OK, well this sounds like classic Pumpkins.
- Travels – Really like this song. Yielding and a bit sad, yet it’s not. Solid vocal arrangement by Corgan.
- Solara – Still trying to understand why the band placed this wholly satisfying song at the end of their three-hour concert after so many fans already left.
- Alienaton – See? A new direction.
- Marchin’ On – Fast, in length and composition, with outstanding rhythm.
- With Sympathy – What you get when early Smashing Pumpkins meets contemporary Smashing Pumpkins.
- Seek and You Shall Destroy – Hardly innovative when compared with current trends but certainly modern for this band.
Certainly, the Smashing Pumpkins sound prevails on this eight song 31 minute album, of course highlighted by Corgan’s sometimes sneering but often contemplative vocals and who sounds just as he did 25 years ago. With the band back together, Corgan has his original creative team behind him and it shows.
Though billed as an LP and not nearly as long as the first eight albums, Shiny and Oh So Bright definitely rises to the level of a full album release. Corgan indicated earlier this year plans to release two albums and with Vol. 1 in the title fans should expect a Vol. 2 sooner rather than later.
As such, the Pumpkins embark on a modern journey, it feels, something quite evident by the overall cohesive sound of the record. Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. boasts strong melodies, solid guitar work and a vibe that resembles that of new band ready to break out. And in the case of Smashing Pumpkins, maybe break out again.
Smashing Pumpkins Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. Songs:
- Knights of Malta
- Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)
- Marchin’ On
- With Sympathy.
- Seek and You Shall Destroy