Album Review: The Smashing Pumpkins - 'Oceania'

28 June 2012 | 3:52 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Still not quite where it once was.

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I grew up listening to The Smashing Pumpkins, they were one of the most influential bands on my young teenage musical self, records like 'Siamese Dream,' 'Melon Collie' and even 'Ava Adore,' affected me greatly. A few years ago I got to see what was left of the band, which at that point was just front man Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. The show, was hands down, one of the worst performances I have ever seen in my entire life and it made me lose all faith in my childhood musical heroes.

Since then I have cared little for the band, their releases have been bland and the group really is more like the Billy Corgan show now as opposed to The Smashing Pumpkins. To further prove this point, on the new record 'Oceania,' Corgan is the only remaining original member. There is no denying Corgan’s song writing abilities or talents, the question is does anyone care anymore, as the front man refuses to change his style too drastically.

The first section of the record features the hard edged, guitar driven rock that older Pumpkins fans will love as opening track Quasar, mimics something off the second disc of 'Mellon Collie.' The guitar assault continues on to the following song Panopticon, as Corgan looks to kick things off with an energetic bang, walls of sound, rolling drums and sweet hints of melody which will have even the faithless fans like myself digging the vibe.

Things get weaker with the acoustic ballad The Celestials and the dalliances into bright electronic indie rock such as One Diamond, One Heart, or Pinwheels which are truly uninteresting and skip worthy. The pumpkins are no strangers to electronica, they actually are quite good at it when it is darker, but the happy version of the band has moments akin to the one off project Zwan than the brooding electro feel of 'Ava Adore.'

Thankfully the record brings things back to the rocking with the 'Siamese Dream' era sounding The Chimera, which uses bass heavy fuzzed out guitars to drive its sound. The record ends as Pumpkins albums usually do, softly, on Wildflower, a string and key number which tries to push Corgan's vocals as the driving force, however by this point in the record, and the band's career, you may be a little sick of his whiny croon.

I really do not want to sound like one of those fans who hates on the band's new material and likes the moments that sound like the old stuff the best, but Billy Corgan's blatant disrespect for what his band once was has made me this way. The Smashing Pumpkins have been around for so long that their attempts to "try something new" have not been progressed enough to make things interesting anymore, and 'Oceania' is no exception.