Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

"This feels like a very straightforward album for the Smashing Pumpkins and that's its biggest downfall."

That title just makes me laugh. I don't think there's another band out there like the Smashing Pumpkins that are so inherently pleased with themselves and so self assured of their own greatness that they don't actually give a toss whether anybody agrees with them or not. And most people don't. Ok, perhaps Razorlight can be added to that group -- and if that's the standard we're going by, The Smashing Pumpkins may have a point! You certainly can't accuse them of doing things by half.

Gish brought them some college radio attention and although the recording of Siamese Dream pretty much tore them apart, they managed to create one of the best albums of the 1990's. Following that, they released the fabulous B-Sides and rarities album, Pisces Iscariot. They trumped that with Melon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, a double album that was at least an hour too long for most people (and so was its title) and followed that up with the underrated Adore, which freaked people out a bit because they suddenly went all Goth. Or maybe it was Billy's bald head that did it? Anyway, the band crawled so far up their own arses they then released Machina, a concept album about a cartoon version of themselves which nobody cottoned on to and most people just thought that Billy had lost the plot entirely. Then it all ended with a free download and an emotional world tour and that was that, or so we thought.

I was excited about Zeitgeist. I really was. I figured that the distance between the dreadful (barring a couple of songs) Machina may have calmed Billy's ego a little and thankfully I've been proven right. This feels like a very straightforward album for the Smashing Pumpkins and that's its biggest downfall. There are hints of greatness here, but they are only hints. Plus, even though they rock out for most of the album, there's a bit too much of a hair metal/doom metal vibe going on for this to feel vital and important. There's some decent stuff on here, but there's nothing of the calibre of Silverfuck, Stand Inside Your Love, or Muzzle.

Being surrounded by crunching guitars and that trademark whine of a voice, it's initially great to have them back, but in the end, listening to Zeitgeist is like spending 40 minutes in a tumble dryer. It's hot, it's loud and for a while it's exciting but once the initial fun of the idea wears off, you're left feeling rather dizzy and with a terrible headache. Although I am truly happy to see the Smashing Pumpkins back I honestly can't recommend this album to you. My advice to you is this, go see them live. Maybe then you'll realise just how good this band once were, and hopefully can be again. Leave the Zeitgeist at home.

Words : Damian Leslie