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What was he thinking?

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist
(Martha's Music/Reprise)
1 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 13, 2007
Smashing Pumpkins

Review by Andy Argyrakis

At the turn of the 2000s, Billy Corgan threw one of his usual tantrums and decided he didn't want to be a Smashing Pumpkin anymore. After a series of highly publicized farewell shows, retrospective CDs and DVDs, plus mounds of press about how iconic the band was throughout the 1990s, the bald headed "Zero" hero refused to look back and moved on to a series of diverse projects with mixed results. There was the generally well received indie rock all star group Zwan, the self-serving but entertaining poetry book, a charming concert about the city of Chicago and an ill fated electronic solo album. But after each of those short lived diversions ran their course, Corgan announced the unthinkable- a "reunion" of the Pumpkins with only one other key member, drummer (and Zwan sidekick) Jimmy Chamberlin. Sure, it seems like a fine concept for nostalgia's sake, but could also prove infuriating for those who dumped tons of money into catching the final concerts, not to mention the line-up showing no signs of essential guitarist James Iha, bassist D'Arcy Wretzky or at the very least her replacement Melissa Auf Der Maur.

Motivation and membership aside, how do these so called "Smashing Pumpkins" stand-up seven years since the brand name's last studio album? Though hopes were high and hype was abundant, the disc boasts very few instances of being worth the wait, and for the most part, falls flat from the group's storied and seminal past. The disc launches with the muddy and murky "Doomsday Clock," weaved around Corgan's usual apocalyptical imagery, but delivered without any real emotion or urgency like he would've provided a dozen years ago. "7 Shades of Black" may kick off with a militant drum beat and distorted guitars, but Corgan sounds like an old timer trying to revisit the band's roots rather than the angst ridden teenager from the first go around. The ringleader's whimper is also particularly grating come the electric ballad "Bleeding the Orchard," failing to pack any memorable hooks whatsoever and coming across as quite a banal let down, especially compared to similarly paced classics like "Today."

One of the few glimpses of hope comes from "That's the Way (My Love Is)," which sounds like a useful leftover from 2000's MACHINA/The Machines of God (Virgin) and is the closest the disc comes to having a relevant single. "(Come On) Let's Go!" runs a close second thanks to its somewhat engaging blend of grungy guitars and a more fierce vocal pattern, but still lacks the magnetism of yesteryear. However even those mildly satisfying windows are quickly overshadowed by the self-indulgent jam "United States," the droned chants of "Pomp and Circumstances" and too many more to even mention without a diehard fan getting even more depressed. It's a shame Corgan and Chamberlin had to resort to the cash in reunion route in the first place, but even more disturbing (though by no means surprising) is the final product's lack of punch.

Watch Smashing Pumpkins' - "Tarantula" video

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