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EMI / martha's music
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Front-man Bill Corgan once said that the Smashing Pumpkins were "trying to find a synthesis of an alternative idealism combined with classic rock musical values, and then somehow take those things into the mainstream in a subversive way. "
We're not sure how much Billy boy delivered on that promise with Oceania, but the Smashing Pumpkins' latest album is a medley of the Pumpkins' various styles. Oceania is an "album-within-an-album" — its 13 songs are part of the still to be released 44 track collection called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.
The Smashing Pumpkins always appealed to their listener's inner teenager. The band's music is almost always an angst-filled anthology, comprising crooning guitars, a devastating drum beat, a nigh plaintive bass line, heavy use of the synthesizer, Corgan's wistful lyrics and lachrymose voice. This album combines the rebellious rock sound from the band's Gish era along with some electro-pop elements from the days of Adore.
The first few tracks (Quasar, Panopticon and the Celestials) are pure Pumpkin, heavily influenced by the band's old-school musical roots with an emphasis on gyrating guitar-strings with a lot of utilisation the wah pedal and a bombastic drum-line. My Love is Winter impressed us the least, mostly because of the heavily pop inspired, bubblegum lyrics (I love you a 101%). The title-track Oceania is also lacklustre. Not that it's bad, but we expected the eponymous song to pack a little more punch. Pinwheels and Violet Rays on the other hand are pure alternative rock symphonies.
All in all, the album does deliver a lot of the grungy power ballads of the Pumpkins, interspersed with sweet melancholic rock sound that they later started producing. We just wish they hadn't lost steam halfway through the album.
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