Smashing Pumpkins as opposed to Breaking Apples


Now this is the true Smashing Pumpkins reunion we have been waiting for after they came back in 2005.

With original members Jimmy Chamberlin and James Iha rejoining the band, this is the first time in 19 years they both collaborated with frontman Billy Corgan on a studio album. Is it worth the hype? Absolutely.

The album title is so convoluted it even gives Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness a run for its money. Ironically, the album is the shortest in their discography, clocking in at just 31 minutes.

Each of the eight tracks are short and concise, and it is something that really works in their favor. The songwriting is the primary focus here and every song is sophisticated and has its own distinct flair.

Corgan sounds rejuvenated here with some of the best vocals of his career. While his voice has always been distinctive, you can hear striking passion here that was somewhat lacking in past releases.

Chamberlin subdues his drumming as well as he can, but he frequently lets it rip with jaw-dropping fills.

With Iha now back in the mix, the band has three guitarists including Corgan and Jeff Schroeder. However, that’s not to say the three of them are battling for attention. They play to each other’s strengths well. The balancing of sound here is truly impressive.

Warm melodies and catchy hooks are all over this album. “Knights of Malta” is a mystical swirling cacophony of strings, synths and choir, and it provides a grandiose opening track for the album.

Tracks like “Marchin’ On” and “Seek and You Shall Destroy” contain positively thrashing riffs.

The aforementioned triple guitar threat sounds its best in “Travels,” with an absolutely beautiful layering of marvelous textures.

The album as a whole is a mixture between rock, acoustic, orchestral and electronic. It is a very unique and dynamic sounding release, which is something that makes the album instantly recognizable in the midst of a soon to be over-saturated year of rock releases.

Even some of Corgan’s nonsense lyrics like ‘she kills the empty clock’ can’t take away from the beauty encapsulated in this album.

Smashing Pumpkins were always an interesting band, continuously evolving but always having an alt-rock flair with classic metal influences.

This is not a return to form, but it is something special.

It’s crazy to think that this band is celebrating their 30th anniversary. It’s amazing and I’m certainly looking forward to Vol. 2.

Parker’s Picks: “Alienation,” “Seek and You Shall Destroy,” “Solara,” “Kings of Malta”