The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania
September 16, 2012, 7:23 pm
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Yes, Billy Corgan is frequently a petulant narcissist. Many great artists are but we, the audience, tolerate all the bullshit as long as said artists keep providing us with great music. It’s the unspoken pact we make. Everything Corgan has released since Machina/Machina II (and the initial dissolution of the Pumpkins) has pretty much been a trail of fail.  As much, this output – both musical and conversational – has led most to assume (me included) that we were watching the slow decline into irrelevance of the once great Pumpkin and most of us stopped giving a fuck. I never expected a new “Smashing Pumpkins” album to capture my attention and emotions the way Corgan’s ’91-’00 output did but, against all odds, here I am, suddenly giving a sincere fuck about Corgan again. Oceania is the best thing Corgan has created since at least Adore and possibly Mellon Collie. Bold words, I know, and I do not type them lightly. Just scroll down, click on opening track “Quasar”, listen (I’ll wait) and tell me that Corgan hasn’t reignited the sky-scraping, bull-dozing psychedelic glory of Gish and Siamese Dream. Need more? Scroll down further to “The Chimera” and “Inkless” and witness the resurrection of Alternative Nation. And please don’t get me wrong: I’m not praising Oceania simply because it’s some sort of nostalgic joyride. Oceania succeeds only because Corgan is writing triumphant, radio-dominating songs again. At least half of Oceania could have absolutely owned alternative radio and 120 minutes in the ’90s. Everything here plays to his strengths – psych-addled prog-rock and dream-pop – but it sounds more relevant and enthralling than he has in over a decade.

Oceania is out now on Martha’s Music/EMI.

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