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The Smashing Pumpkins: Monuments To An Elegy

Album Review

It’s all about the tides turning.

First, the tide of Billy Corgan’s swelling creative tsunami. The Smashing Pumpkins were always too big, too opulent, too sonically ambitious for grunge; the likes of 1993’s Siamese Dream and 1995’s Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness gave hard rock carte blanche to be elegant, expansive and sophisticated for the rest of the decade, the latter’s two-hour life-cycle concept envisaged as The Wall for Generation X. By the time they split in 2000, they were making grandiloquent 73-minuters about rock stars called Zero talking to God, and trying to turn into cariacatures of themselves on tour. Corgan had pomped his band to bursting point.

Then, the tide of cultural consumption. When Billy and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin re-formed for Zeitgeist in 2007, they soon found that the goldfish-brained youth had little patience for mammoth labyrinthine conceptual works. Corgan launched the six-year Teargarden By Kaleidyscope project with a series of impromptu free online songs and the intention of compiling a 44-song Teargarden box set in 2015. 

No one noticed them, and he returned to the regular album format, but 2012’s dreamy, lovelorn Oceania and its accompanying tour were met with a similar lukewarm reception. Since he refuses to cash in with a Siamese Dream tour and hit the “slow-motion suicide” of the nostalgia circuit, the writing was on the wall; The Pumpkins needed to tune in, tighten up and rock out.

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