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It's Not 1995 Anymore

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 3, 2007 6:30PM

2007_07_corgan.gifWe're a bit mystified that anyone is paying attention to the new Billy Corgan solo jawn Smashing Pumpkins album. OK, not really. Though Corgan has been largely written off as a joke in recent years, there is no denying his influence over the direction music took in the '90s. He led a band that appealed to everyone from gloom and doom goths to mainstream Abercrombie & Fitch-lovers by playing the disaffected heartstrings that lay within every teenager. Some blame him for the commercialization of the Alternative Nation, but we feel those folks are just griping because Corgan had the gall to reach for superstardom while admitting that was his goal all along.

The real reason Corgan has fallen so far out of popular opinion is because when he stopped writing compelling music, he blamed his fan base for no longer "getting" him, pulled a Ziggy, and broke up the band.

It certainly didn't help that he announced the resurrection of the Smashing Pumpkins on the same day he released a solo album that was, to put it kindly, abysmal.

Much has been made of the fact that half of the original band isn't included in the reunion, but let's be honest; Corgan played just about everything on every Smashing Pumpkins disc except drums, and live neither James Iha or D'arcy Wretzky were exactly what we would call assets. No one seems to remember that the Pumpkins were a particularly terrible live band and all the magic (and we will grant there was some magic) happened in the studio.

So that brings us to the new Smashing Pumpkins album, Zeitgeist, that drops next week. It sounds like, well, the Smashing Pumpkins. At the same time, it sounds pretty bereft if the old inspiration that made Corgan's over-the-top theatrics stomachable in the first place.It ain't bad, it ain't good, it ain't ain't ... it just is. Corgan is no longer the hungry, ambitious, angry young man out to make every schoolyard bully that ever gave him a wedgie crawl up to him and lick his boots. The fire just isn't there. Instead we get a collection of songs that sound an awful lot like The Smashing Pumpkins without ever convincingly escaping the long shadow the band originally cast.

Corgan wanted to change the world, and he did, so it's not surprising that his re-entry into music under a familiar brand name should feel slightly washed out this time around.

Image from Smashing Pumpkins website.