I lost faith in the idea of the Smashing Pumpkins after their farewell tour in 2000. It was a crushing way to end a relationship that began in 1993.
The flirt with Zwan was good for Billy Corgan and a reminder that he still had “it”. His first solo album proper (though technically the term could be applied to some, if not all of the Pumpkins’ output) was a meander through Corgan’s personal tastes in electronica, plus a few Pumpkins-by-numbers offerings.
There was insecurity in the man though. So much so that, on the day of TheFutureEmbraces’s release, he placed a full page advert in Chicago’s two major metro dailies announcing his intention to reform The Smashing Pumpkins.
Critics called it a commercial move ahead of his solo album’s release. But the man is loaded and his notoriety in the music sphere isn’t something to wane too easily, especially as he remained active in the immediate years after the Pumpkins’ demise.
“I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams,” Corgan pledged. Good luck to him.
Zeitgeist is the product of this intention. The first portion of it sounds like a halfway house to Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. The epic heavy sounds of the era are recreated soberly by means of Doomsday Clock, 7 Shades Of Black and the jarringly OTT stomp of Tarantula.
With its wavey, grungey melodies Bleeding The Orchid could have been a Zwan b-side. The middle portion descends into vacant stadium rock (Starz) and pointless studio jams (United States). Never Lost is a reasonable stab at Mellon Collie’s more tender moments but it never quite gets close enough.
By the end the uplifting radio rock of Come On rolls by like four o’clock motorway traffic. For God And Country wraps up the rather un-Pumpkin-like politicking. Pomp and Circumstances gushes the vibrancy of Porcelina of the Vast Oceans.
Corgan produced some of the finest music of his generation and Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and beautifully underrated Adore will stand the test of time. That was a period for Corgan at his most unsettled and fruitful which is forever lost.
Recounting such thoughts, by this point almost an hour has been spent in the company of a record which stares back at you with the appeal of an ex you’d rather not have bumped into.