Testament to Corgan’s creative vision…
Review by Raymond Westland
Release date: 5 December 2014
The Smashing Pumpkins’ creative mastermind Billy Corgan has always been considered something of an eccentric, be it declaring his love and appreciation for Black Sabbath and Pantera when it was taboo back in the nineties to playing a three hour ambient show in his own tea shop a couple of months ago. Apparently he’s involved in the wrestling world as well. What has remained is Corgan’s uncompromising attitude when it comes to writing music as he sees fit and the band’s latest release, Monuments To An Elegy, is testament to the man’s creative vision.
Monuments To An Elegy is described as a guitar-driven album and that’s very true. However, anyone who’s expecting a throwback type of record akin to Gish and Siamese Dream will be sorely disappointed. Nor is it a musical tour de force like Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, although it does shares that album’s adventurous and forward-thinking type of spirit. In fact, at 33 minutes, the new Smashing Pumpkins album may be the shortest one Corgan and Co. have delivered to date. Yet, despite its relative short length, the record is wonderfully concise and it packs quite a punch in the creative department.
In spirit, the new album retains the somewhat ethereal and milder nature of Oceania, yet it does have some excellent guitar-driven songs on it, like ‘Tiberius’, ‘One And All’ and ‘Drum + Fife’. They may not please the Pumpkins crowd, who’d rather have another ‘Bullet With The Butterfly Wings’ or ‘Disarm’. Wake up people, Corgan did that with the Zeitgeist record and it was painfully obvious his heart wasn’t in the entire project. Another key element is abundant use of vintage keyboards on the title track and ‘Dorian’, which gives the album its specific texture and atmosphere.
It works really well on most songs; however things go horribly wrong on ‘Run2Me’, which brings the worst of the Pet Shop Boys and similar eighties synth pop to mind. In all fairness, this particular song is the only glaring mistake on an otherwise very solid musical endeavour. Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee took care of all the drums on this album, however his trademark bravado doesn’t shine through. Then again, Monuments To An Elegy isn’t an all-out rock n’ roll type of record, thus, seen in that light, he did an excellent job serving the song material.
Regardless of the fans’ rabid yearn to another good old Smashing Pumpkins record Billy Corgan clings on to his own musical vision, which in this particular instance is a good thing. Monuments Of An Elegy is a very original album which retains the feel and spirit of the band’s ongoing Teargarden By Kaleidyscope project. Granted, the Pumpkins relevance as the frontrunner of a whole new generation of bands is long gone, but at least Corgan isn’t afraid to break musical conventions and he keeps on reinventing himself. Isn’t that the quality of a true artist and visionary?
- Being Beige
- One And All
- Drum + Fife