Billy Corgan, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin have made some powerful songs. 1979. Perfect. Cherub Rock. Tonight, Tonight. Today. Zero. The list goes on and on. When Solara came out earlier this year, it sounded like part of that pantheon: Hard guitars, hard vocals, fast and strong drums, ambiguous lyrics…It felt like a return to form, and I for one was happy for it. I like all of Corgan’s writing, and I’ve enjoyed watching his progress into a pensive, long-form songwriter over the past decade, but I also missed the rage of Bullet With Butterfly Wings. I felt like Solara gave me both.
Then a full(ish) album arrived. Actually, it was intended to be two EPs–but I have to praise the Pumpkins for not dumping ten mediocre songs around the eight that actually appear on Shiny and Oh So Bright, because too many modern artists emphasize output over quality. And I get that today’s short attention spans and Spotify’s pay-per-song-play consumption agreements drive that kind of behavior, but it’s lowering the bar for music.
I’ve read the other reviews. I get that many people say this lacks the soaring vision of earlier SP work and doesn’t have the same energy. But guys, he’s a grown-up now. He’s still got the Grunge, but even Grunge as a genre has changed. After Kurt died, it wasn’t coming back the same. Pearl Jam are classic rock now.
This is a very good album. No, it’s not their best–but after twenty years, how many artists put out their best album? What I want to see is maturity, complexity, and it’s here. “Alienation,” for example, plays with time changes and some of the most dense lyrics you’ll hear on a song today.
So, yeah, the band has changed and they’re offering something that is different from what they’ve given us in the past.
I for one am all in on it.