The Smashing Pumpkins

Monuments To An Elegy

Written by: PP on 16/12/2014 22:08:14

There's something of a revitalization going on in The Smashing Pumpkins camp lately. After having released only two albums between 2000 and 2012, the band announced a trilogy of records called "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope", of which 2012's "Oceania" was the first one: It was a reminder of the glorious songwriting prowess of mastermind Billy Corgan from the 90s, updated with a sense of inspiration from modern alternative rock titans like Our Lady Peace and Muse. Much like its predecessor, "Monuments To An Elegy" continues to source its soundscape from a similar realm, while sounding noticeably different at the same time.

Where "Oceania" was a more straight forward rock album with catchy melodies, "Monuments To An Elegy" feels a little more experimental in comparison. There's more air in the songs, more toying with grandiose atmospheres even whilst Corgan's unique vocals still hold the band's feet firmly in the ground as opposed to a certain Mr. Bellamy on Muse's later records. So while the melodies are more ambitious in terms of space, they retain the classic Smashing Pumpkins vibe, the quirky and somewhat odd approach to vocal melodies on top of solid riffage and plenty of effects pedals work. That's what has worked for the band in the past and also works here on songs like "Being Beige" and "Dorian", despite the repetitive nature of the lyrics on the latter one. In the middle, you have tracks like "Run To Me", which feels like it could've been on a Coldplay album instrumentally, but Corgan's inimitable voice draws the connection back to The Smashing Pumpkins in an instant. That's the beauty of having one of the most recognizable voices in the genre; it allows you to go for wildly different soundscapes without ever sounding that much different in the end.

That said, straight forward rock melodies was the absolute strength of "Oceania" and ultimately the stumbling stone for "Monuments To An Elegy". With focus on more grandeur and more complexion, the sing-alongable melodies often diminish into the spacious atmospheres, offering faint and faded versions of the more direct approach heard earlier. Of course, songs like "Tiberius" and "Anti-Hero" do just that, but they are sandwiched in between material that's less melancholic than usual and more uplifting and, frankly, over-inflated in terms of soundscape. Still, with Corgan's masterful ability to sing most alternative rock fans' pants west, it's difficult to hate on "Monuments To An Elegy" any more than necessary. While not as good as "Oceania", it's still a good album and a reminder that Smashing Pumpkins are not done just yet.


Download: Being Beige, Dorian,
For the fans of: Our Lady Peace, Muse, Zwan, Bush, R.E.M.
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.12.2014

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