The Smashing Pumpkins

Oceania

Written by: PP on 09/01/2013 22:19:39

One of the few remaining alternative rock behemoths left in 2012, The Smashing Pumpkins have somehow managed to elude my interest until their ninth studio album "Oceania". They've written a slew of timeless classics over their career, but I've never been drawn into a full album by the band before for whatever reason. That's about to change with "Oceania", which I'm told is their most complete work since the 90s. It's not difficult to hear why.

Already the hard-hitting opening riffs of "Quasar" suggest you're in for a great ride; Billy Corgan's unmistakable croons confirm that with the most confidence I've heard Smashing Pumpkins play in almost a decade. What follows are timeless rock anthems written with a wealth of experience from the golden era of the 90s. From an era before production and superfluous songwriting took over. These are relics of a sound dearly missed, when writing a rock song meant writing honest songs from your heart with your feet firmly attached to the ground, even though the songs sometimes ended up sounding huge anyway. That's precisely what happens here, by the way: The Smashing Pumpkins write unassuming alternative rock songs where they have paid extra attention to writing subtle arrangements that sound absolutely monumental once they grown on the listener, long-players that reveal an incredible layer of depth upon enough listens that might not be immediately clear from the first listen. This, my friends, is how art sounds like. In its purest form.

And yet the songs are catchy and never pretentious. They're catchy in precisely the same way as Our Lady Peace songs are catchy; unique vocals, intriguing melodies slightly outside of the ordinary realm of alternative rock. Sometimes that means quieter slow songs, which are still heartfelt like "Violet Rays", and sometimes it means writing songs like "Panopticon" that would make Muse proud. Acoustic guitars seamlessly interact with unintruding violins, keys provide backing ambience in carefully selected passages, but most of all, Corgan's vocal melodies are his strongest since their 90s masterpieces. "One Diamond, One Heart" is one such example where his soothing vocal work is in perfect contrast with the slightly more dramatic keys this time around, even if the song takes a poppier direction in places.

In the end, The Smashing Pumpkins have written a rock album in the traditional meaning of the word. It hasn't been infiltrated by sub-sub-sub genre influences, it's as pure as the 90s alternative sound comes - and they deliver it with the skill that only decades of experience can bring. Don't miss this one.

Download: Quasar, One Diamond One Heart, Panopticon
For the fans of: Our Lady Peace, Muse, Silversun Pickups
Listen: Facebook

Release date 19.06.2012
EMI

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