by: The Smashing Pumpkins
01.01.2015 | Selected by Jeremy (aka Player 2)
Yeah, I did it: a Pumpkins album. I saw there was one released last month (not this pick), only to learn that it's part of this bigger-than-an-album sort-of experience Billy Corgan is maybe still doing that included a prior album (this pick) and some EPs and singles. It's just him from the original lineup, but I've always had an a place in my heart for Billy's prose and the Pumpkins' sound where gritty rockers and lullabies crossed paths. I don't really expect to find that same place here, and I don't think you can replace Jimmy Chamberlin's drumming, but hopefully I'll find something good in it to reward my curiosity.
"Oceania" starts out pretty strong with some classic Pumpkins-sounding heavy guitar and drums, sounding a lot like the frenzy peak of previous mid-record epic tracks. The album continues on with a lot of rockers and some slower, reflective parts mixed in. There does seem to be a common thread of watery, oceanic, uncharted journey sound to a number of tracks. The first half of the album I like a fair amount. It harkens back to classic Pumpkins sounds but with a modern twist.
The mid-record epic track - a staple of Smashing Pumpkins albums - which is also the title track here, is where things take a turn. It feels disjointed and moves all over the place, which spills into the second half of the album. Maybe there's a story going on within that I just haven't caught onto, but I keep feeling like it's about to bust into something pretty awesome and then something different happens. It's like Billy is trying not to mimic that epic track formula too closely, but that just misses the whole point of such a build - I want that Pumpkins frenzy at that point!
The second half of the album takes a little break but then comes back with a few more rockers that for the most part sound great. There's a chill track to cap off the album, which works well on a number of older Pumpkins albums but I felt like this one didn't have much to offer.
The more I listen to the album, the more I find that I like a lot of it. But it's not something I'm finding stuck in my head and needing to hear. (That may well be in part because I also took up The New Pornographers' first album "Mass Romantic" and haven't been able to dislodge that album from my head.)
Overall, I think "Oceania" is better than I expected, and I may grow to like it more if I keep spinning it. I'm just not sure if I'm going to be driven to spin it more because I really want to or because I feel like I should.