What happened to the Smashing Pumpkins?

The Smashing Pumpkins have a special place in my heart - the first CD I ever bought was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Just goes to show that I was both cool and pretentious at a tender age. I'm listening to the new album, Zeitgeist, and it's OK, but not up to Mellon Collie or Siamese Dream. The first track, Doomsday Clock, is fine in its own way but feels over-produced. Some tracks come over as, well, pretentious - Bleeding the Orchid, for instance - and those tracks that sound more like the Pumpkins I'm used to - Tarantula - suffer from the same over-polishing, losing the grittiness in Billy Corgan's voice that used to be so distinctive.

Album cover for Zeitgeist by the Smashing PumpkinsSome of the later songs are, frankly, bizarre and I cannot get my head around them. Perhaps the tone of the album is set by the cover and the title, Zeitgeist. The 'spirit of the age' is the Statue of Liberty standing with water rising about her. I don't think Corgan sings well about politics. Three songs, United States, For God and Country and Pomp and Circumstances, taken together give the impression that Corgan wants to be positive about the USA but can't because of recent events.

United States runs
Revolution blues
What will they do to me
Freedom shines the light ahead
I'll lead the last charge to bed
I said my last rights
I don't have to run scared no more
which sounds very different from "despite all my rage/I am still just a rat in a cage" of the days of yore. Corgan changes further in For God and Country:
You can't deny God and country
We're fighting for our lives
You can't deny God and country
Our souls are so aligned
In this time of God and country
We'll take you on our side
It's all right
My soul is so alive
With God and night
With God and country
My soul is so alive
Which could be ironic save for the last line - "my soul is so alive" - which suggests to me that the security of a position, regardless of the position, and the approval of a peer group is comforting in a difficult time.

You then have "Pomp and Circumstances", which runs:
What was once new now gone
What was once praised now wrong
As they go, we can say we know
But what do we know
But warm sunshine and graves
Don't we see
What's bitter to taste
which, coupled with United States seems to be hoping that there well be some sort of revolution, perhaps to kick Corgan et al. out of their collective reverie. I hope that the personification of that revolution is not Hillary Clinton or another Democrat as that would suggest a dreadful naivete.

Aside from the fact I disagree with what I think is meant, it isn't said well. Nevertheless, I enjoyed listening to the album. It is well made and thoughtful. It just didn't resonate with me in the way that Mellon Collie or Siamese Dream did.

OK, I admit it. I didn't buy Mellon Collie. I gave the money to my Mum to buy it for me.




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