Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist

by Smashing Pumpkins
3.8 14

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Overview

Zeitgeist

Way back before the Smashing Pumpkins were superstars, right around the release of Siamese Dream, it was already an open secret that they were not a democracy; they were a dictatorship, ruled under the iron fist of singer/songwriter/guitarist/conceptualist Billy Corgan. He came up with their sound, equal parts metal and dream pop, he wrote the songs, and, according to most reports, he recorded almost all the guitars and bass on their albums, masterminding their sound down to the littlest details. Anybody that meticulous was also sharp enough to know the value of image too, so Corgan knew it was better to present the Smashing Pumpkins as a full-fledged band, not a solo project, and he came up with a diverse lineup ideally matched for the alt-rock '90s: he was the skinny misfit leader, surrounded by female bassist D'Arcy, Japanese-American guitarist James Iha, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who came across like an old metalhead on the prowl for freaky chicks. They didn't look like a band; they looked like the idea of a band, which was appealing in its own right, but for as photogenic as they were, the reason the Pumpkins turned into stadium-conquering monsters was Corgan's outsized music, which was nothing if not deliberately, self-consciously dramatic. His commitment to grand gestures was cemented when he disbanded the Smashing Pumpkins at the turn of the millennium, about a year after former Hole bassist Melissa auf der Maur replaced D'Arcy and just as Iha was beginning to bolt. The group was beginning to fracture, but the retirement of the band's name seemed like confirmation that the Pumpkins were a concrete idea for Corgan, that they were a band that served a particular moment in time, and once that moment in time had passed, so had the band. The very fact that he pretty much was the Pumpkins lent this move integrity, since it was clear that Billy could keep the ball rolling, ushering new musicians in and out under the same moniker with nobody but the hardcore being any wiser, but instead of taking that easy road, he decided to make a clean break and pursue other projects. As it turns out, the Smashing Pumpkins era did mark a phase in Corgan's career: the time that people paid attention to him. Without that name, Corgan started playing to an ever-more selective audience, first as the leader in the deceptively sunny Zwan and then on an icy, alienating 2005 solo album, The Future Embrace, where Corgan channeled his inner Martin Gore. Neither was a radical musical departure from the Pumpkins -- even The Future Embrace had its roots in Adore -- but that didn't matter, since taken together they had the cumulative effect of marginalizing Corgan, and if there was ever a place Billy didn't want to be it was on the margin. From the very beginning, he wanted to lead the biggest, most important band in the land, eventually getting his wish as he used the indie rock underground as a catapult to mainstream stardom, but once his star began to wane he panicked and played the one card he had left in his deck: getting the band back together. On the day The Future Embrace was released, he took out a full-page ad in his hometown paper the Chicago Tribune announcing that the Smashing Pumpkins were reuniting. The only hitch was, he didn't tell any of the other members of the impending reunion, but as it turns out, only Chamberlin -- who was already drumming with Corgan -- was interested in signing up, leaving the Smashing Pumpkins as a band in name only, a Billy Corgan project at its core. This was precisely the very thing he seemed to avoid when he retired the band at the turn of the millennium, and returning to his marquee name gave this reunion a sense of desperation, as if he had nowhere else to go, and the ensuing 2007 album Zeitgeist does nothing to erase the suspicion that Corgan is anxious to regain his status as rock & roll god. To this end, he makes Zeitgeist the hardest, heaviest Pumpkins album ever, layering the record with endless guitar overdubs that wind up feeling like overcompensation, not just for the synth-driven Future Embrace but as a blustering retort to any skeptic who questions the validity of this reunion. Of course, bombast has always been par for the course for Corgan and the Pumpkins, but at their peak they truly did achieve sense of majesty, either in their dreamy, softer psychedelic side or their towering torrents of metallic guitar. Here Corgan has blunted his attack, removing much of the sense of beauty both in the ballads (which invariably are icy here, stilted synth sculptures, not the quivering, gentle pop of "1979" or the strings and acoustic guitars of "Disarm") and the rockers, which was a key to the Pumpkins' appeal. What made "Cherub Rock" or "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" work is how the sighing melody acted as a counterpoint to the ferocious guitars, but on Zeitgeist he buries his threadbare melodies beneath squeals of overly processed guitars. More than anything, it's this digitally dulled sound that saps Zeitgeist from any great impact it may have, but it's also true that there's import to the title: for the first time, Corgan is trying to address the wrongs of society, which is a big change for a writer who has spent his career turning the intimate into the operatic.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/10/2007
Label: Reprise / Wea
UPC: 0093624997788
catalogNumber: 138620

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Zeitgeist 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Heavy_Metal_Sushi More than 1 year ago
I have loved Smashing Pumpkins for a long time, but it took me forever before I finally gave this album a listen. Once I finally did though, I was rather impressed. It's not quite Siamese Dream or Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, but it is definitely a great album to rock out to! If you are into good rock music and you haven't ever heard The Smashing Pumpkin's music, you are missing out! Do yourself a favor and check em out! If you are a fan or have heard them and like them, do definitely check out this album. It is worthwhile!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best albums of the year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After seven years, it is relieving to say that Billy is back. Zeistgeist came out this morning "7/10/07". My buddy and I both bought the separate versions of the album, and separated after listening to half of the album together. After 3 spins, I can’t help but be reminded of all of the times I’ve connected with this particular band. It’s wonderful to know that talent does not get older with age in some cases. This album is as rocking as the Pumpkins have been since Siamese Dream- holding the same sounds and triumphs from the old albums- then again ultimately changing style just as the old albums did. Jimmy Chamberlain’s high pitched snare and amazing rhythms, Billy’s lucent guitar work and incredibly unique voice... they've all meshed together very, very well. Rock still has hope.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've got to agree with the reviewer who pointed out - this is the lineup that recorded Siamese Dream. This album sure isn't Siamese Dream - but it is a blast. It doesn't have quite the 'of a piece' feel that some SP albums do, and every track is not a classic. But I can't think of a single song I can't stand, and there a few great ones. If you want another groundbreaking, sweeping artistic statement - you'll be disappointed. If you miss the Pumpkins but don't demand another Mellon Collie, I can't imagine you'll be disappointed. As to the claim about Jimmy not being an original member - irrelevant. Reunions aren't always based on that - they're based on 'classic' lineups of which Chamberlain is a part. Imagine a Beatles reunion without Ringo. Pretty stupid, don't you think?
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best albums of the year. A great return, from the Pumpkins, plus the book is plus, filled with wonderful artwork, a must have for any Pumpkins fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
doesn't billy corgan have enough money? does the public really need subjected to another sub-par smashing pumpkins record? this band was over a long time ago, and this new album is crap.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the new record... The first two songs are my favorite... If you want a repeat of the old stuff go listen to the old records... And to one of the other reviewers... Jimmy Chamberlain's is/was a major part of the smashing pumpkins.. to say he isn't an original member is stupid really..technically true but it means nothing..... his drumming and billy's guitar playing is what stood out about the band... I can't wait to see them live again!... Love.. 1# fan since 1991
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best album ever. Even though D'arcy and James Iha aren't there, its still better. Billy Corgan is an awsome guitarist. It will satisfy your rock need.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If this is a sign of the times... hopefully the times are almost over. All the songs sound the same. They all sound like someone trying to save his career by copying himself. It's too bad they couldn't reunite for real. This is not the same Smashing Pumpkins who made great music throughout the 90s and constantly found new ways to reinvent themselves and their sound. That band broke up in 2000. Sadly, people seem to be willing to trick themselves that it is. That band is long gone. I so wanted it to be and was really excited when I heard about the 'reunion'. That would be nice if they would reunite for real though. Down-tuned fuzzy guitars and smacking the Pumpkins name on it does not a reunion make. This is trickery designed fool people who have been waiting for this band to come back for the better part of a decade. Minus this neat trick it could be any other billy corgan side project. Don't be fooled. (Lest we forget.. Jimmy wasn't even part of the original three-piece with drum-machine trio that was the original line-up. So technically there is only one original member left who hired new members and called it reunion.) Chamberlain might as well be a session drummer who will add drum tracks to anything Billy does-like Billy's side projects which is basically what this is he's just decided to put the pumpkins name on it and fake the rest. This is already the most unfortunate disappointment of 2007. For pumpkins fans anyways. For people who have been fans of the band that was I highly do not recommend this. But those of you who like to have make believe...you might just be able to fool yourself into thinking its the real deal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Based sheerly off technical virtuosity (I'm convinced that the drumming on the album was one of the best drum performances of 2007, easy)...it deserves a couple stars. But this isn't the Smashing Pumpkins. I don't mind D'arcy and James Iha not being on this album, as Billy pretty much did everything all those years anyway. But the songs sound sterile, and the vocals sound horrible (and I never minded Billy's voice). Billy is obsessed with tracking his voice 1000 times instead of the guitars this time, and it really doesn't sound good. And as to it sounding sterile, I noticed it the whole album. The songs sound very contrived. There is none of the organic jamming feel Mellon Collie had. No electronic innovation of Adore, no song-crafting as beautiful as Siamese Dream...leaving the sad shell of the Smashing Pumpkins as a rock band trying to make a few bucks. Kudos to Billy for shifting his lyrical direction, but that's about it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is wuz up 4real!! Can play the entire album without skipping a track. Every song cranks no doubt!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although you could argue that this is not the original line-up of the Pumpkins, it is the way it always was. Billy played every instrument besides drums on Siamese Dream. "Chamberline supplied those as well" This is definately the most different album they have put out. It is politically charged and lacks the normal introspective writing that made Corgin famous. If you are a Pumpkins fan I recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i brought this cd a while back and gave it a full listen its a great cd i brought the best buy reisue with the few bouns tracks and the bouns dvd of the making of zeitgeist. allthough this was done with only jimmy chamberlins drum work and billy corgan doing lead volcals gutairs and all the rest of the insterments it sounds like a full force rocken smashing pumpkins album.