Smashing Pumpkins

Oceania (Martha's Music)

Phases & Stages

Smashing Pumpkins

Oceania (Martha's Music)

Forget the cluttered cultural context that surrounds this once-monumental band. Oceania is a well-thought-out album with respectable execution. Varied yet familiar, it hits marks on three key Pumpkin elements: sandpaper guitar, dynamic drumming, and compelling emotion with a grandeur that shows Billy Corgan still wants to be a hero. Forget that it's probably the middle part of some overblown epic song set and enjoy it for what it is: 13 songs that try to break new ground, and generally succeed, while managing to sound like the Pumpkins we know rather than plastic studio production (Zeitgeist). Opener "Quasar" charges hard with prog-metal poise and righteous coffee-shop poetry, while "The Celestials" recalls "Disarm" in instrumentation and pace, yet takes a happy tone in the refrain. The beautifully restrained "Pale Horse," with a haunting four-note lead and sticky chorus, is so good it glimpses Corgan's 1993-1995 gold standard of songwriting.

***.5

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