The Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist
“this disc has enough of its own merit to stand next to the rest of the Pumpkins’ discography, even with Iha and Wretzkey out of the picture.”
1. Doomsday Clock
2. 7 Shades of Black
3. Bleeding the Orchid
4. That’s the Way (My Love Is)
7. United States
9. Bring the Light
10. (Come One) Let’s Go!
11. For God and Country
12. Pomp and Circumstances
The return of the Smashing Pumpkins was met with criticism from most corners, and their comeback album was downright torn to shreds. But, after letting the dust settle, the bias can be seen through and the truth can come out: it’s really not that bad.
Sure, it can’t touch Siamese Dream (1993) or Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995), but this disc has enough of its own merit to stand next to the rest of the Pumpkins’ discography, even with Iha and Wretzkey out of the picture.
Musically, it’s the standard Pumpkins fare, blending metal and classic rock together in a furious combination, and vocally, Corgan can still hit all the notes he needs to. Unlike fellow alt. rocker Eddie Vedder, his voice still has the power it had a decade earlier.
But, despite Corgan’s form, there’s a problem – there’s too much of him. Most of the songs have layer after layer of vocals on piled on top of each other, the result of Roy Thomas Baker’s production. And Corgan’s voice has always been an acquired taste – even the most adamant of fans will find that it becomes quite jarring, and quickly.
There’s also another inherent problem that plagues Zeitgeist – there’s moments that sound completely forced and veer straight into a brick wall. Corgan’s cries for revolution in ‘United States’ sound juvenile, and his lyrics in ‘That’s the Way’ are saccharine somewhat overbearing.
That doesn’t mean that Zeitgeist is unlistenable – it’s far from it. There’s plenty hard rocking and sincere moments, and they make it a fun and interesting album. There’s nowhere near as much fat as there is on Mellon Collie, and it doesn’t drift out of focus like MACHINA (2000). It’s much easier to ‘get’ as a result, and you don’t need to be feeling any particular way to give it a spin.
As a whole, Zeitgeist gives the Pumpkins another shot at the 21st century – revitalizing a damn good band that had lay dead far too long. It’s straightforward; it rocks hard, and it also shows that with a good songwriter at the helm, a band can live on without all of its original members.