Nine albums in and The Smashing Pumpkins now consist of singer/songwriter Billy Corgan aided by a rotating cast of studio hands. Whilst their first three albums, ‘Gish’, ‘Siamese Dream’ and the awesome double ‘Mellon Collie’ are often regarded as their peak although for this fan, the more electronic leaning ‘Adore’ and the metallic textures of ‘Machina’, the anti American thunder of ‘Zeitgeist’ and the smooth flow of ‘Oceania’ a few years back have much to recommend them but this new release? Hmmmm, lets go down deeper.
The first track, Tiberius, starts with a trickle of electric piano, before the rote latterday Pumpkins treated guitars come in and we are immediately in familiar territory. The song itself isn’t bad, but nothing we haven’t heard from the Pumpkins before, and then just limply trickles to a halt.
So far, so underwhelming. Next track ‘Being Beige’ again starts with piano and follows a similar formula, albeit more acoustic but a pattern is establishing as it bursts into an all too predictable chorus. ‘Anaise’, track three at least offers something different and as such is probably the highlight, but that isn’t the kind of gushing praise the ego ridden Corgan will be expecting/demanding.
The rest of the album drifts by in a ‘will-this-do’? way, like Corgan is phoning it in, which seems to signal the death of ambition for this once great band. Run2Me at least sounds a bit New Order-ish but he’s done that before too, and better, so ultimately, why bother?!?
Ironically, many reviewers have noted the brevity of all the tracks: all but one are just under four minutes long and the other just over four. But for me this stymies the material from progressing further than its rather pedestrian beginnings and blossom into something truly epic that the Pumpkins of yore were clearly capable of.
So, to recap, don’t go looking for a ‘Thru the Eyes Of Ruby’ or a ‘Porcelina’ here. For ‘Monuments to an Elegy’ is just a cross breed between the more average ‘Adore’ material and his underwhelming ‘Zwan’ project. A missed opportunity then and an unspectacular placeholder at best. What a Silly Billy…