There are probably quite a few casual music fans who wondered if The Smashing Pumpkins would ever record anything new after Zeitgeist, their fire-licked 2007 reunion. A part of the still-somewhat amorphous, mysterious concept album known as Teardrop By Kaleidyscope, the band’s new effort Oceania is literally an abum-within-an-album. If that doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay, it just means you’re not Billy Corgan, but what does make sense is Oceania is a stellar collection of dreamy, less-heavy faire from the Pumpkins and is an excellent addition to the group’s canon. What you have with the latest selection are 13 tracks that bring listeners closer to knowing not only what it’s like to be in the studio with the enigmatic singer-songwriter, but also what it’s like inside his head.
Instrumentally, the group is not afraid to “explore the space” from time to time – pairing a spacey synth loop with a slowly shredded solo for the intro on the standout “Pinwheels”. Lyrically, Corgan expounds on the difficulty of overcoming personal defects for the purpose of seeking deeper connections in life and relationships. The fellow singing the love songs on Oceania regularly pledges change and loyalty, but he has trouble ignoring a nagging suspicion that maybe he isn’t the flawed one. It’s a complex dynamic, filled with lots of Pagan and cosmological imagery, something The Smashing Pumpkins have grown into, but it’s treated in a mature fashion; there are no angsty “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”-screams on Oceania. They let their guitars do the screaming instead.
Download: “The Celestials”, “Pinwheels”, “Inkless”
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