THE SMASHING PUMPKINS are alive (sort of) with Monuments to an Elegy, Billy Corgan’s latest installment in the everlasting Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project. [Can a band be truly alive if only one original member is still enlisted? Should they be considered the SMASHED PUMPKINS…or maybe the SURVIVING PUMPKIN SEED?] end thought rant.
Back on topic, I had a friend that was absolutely obsessed with this band in the late 90’s..its something I could never fully understand. They were always interesting and had many great songs, only if Billy Corgan didn’t come across as a total pretentious douche, maybe they would have won me over. And while I have not been a follower of their adventures since Machina, I’m always interested to hear some new Pumpkin [Seed] material.
After the miscue opener with the alt-lullabye sounding “Tiberius”, things actually begin to pick up with a pair of stronger tracks, “Being Beige” and “One And All”, and while neither song offers anything new to the listener, they are well crafted tunes in that traditional Pumpkins fashion. While being more of a mid tempo affair, the latter may be the fiercest track on the album. It has a grittier taste to it that the rest of the album, reminiscent of those earlier Siamese Dream days.
So far, so good…a couple of decent tracks already, and I may be in for a surprise with this release…and then, I am reminded why I never fell completely in love with this band.
“Run2Me” is doing everything in its power to make me run away from it. In a nutshell, Corgan repeats “Run to me” over and over, on top of some minimal drums and synths…very much the waste of time as it sounds. Not to be undone, “Drum + Fife” continues the shite parade, and the lyric ‘Cause I will bang this drum to my dying day’ proves to be an utterly deflating prophecy that Mr. Corgan is not through with us yet.
What follows is not nearly as bad, just merely forgettable, until closer “Anti-Hero” swoops in and tries to save the day and does a modest job of ending an album on a medium-high note. As with “One and All”, and gritty guitars return for one more round to remind you that this band used to rock at one point.
Repetition is the name of the game on so many of these tracks, as lyrics are just regurgitated ad nauseam more than once (although I like “Being Beige”, how many times can one sing the chorus ‘the world’s on fire’ before it actually burns to the ground?). ‘With a girl like you’ from “Anti-Hero” is another culprit…almost every song has a line or two that would fall under this category.
This is a very short and very middle of the road, quiet album, with tons of piano and synth work to add weight to that desired atmosphere. It isn’t a total failure, as there are some nice tracks on here that I would not mind hearing mixed in with their better material, but not much more than that.
Perhaps Mr. Corgan should have spent his time creating music under a different name or a different band rather than dragging out this old dead horse for one more go around. This Pumpkin has gone to mush.