5.0 out of 5 stars
Baby, let's rock!, 16 Feb 2003
As a devoted Pumpkins fan, right the way up to MACHINA, I was initially disappointed with this record. Not that it seemed bad - Billy Corgan is one of the few true geniuses operating in the industry today - but at first listen it seemed too cheerfully produced, an attempt of a famously glum musician to make a more upbeat record. However while this approach has failed for many artists - recently R.E.M. with 2001's sickly 'Reveal' - Zwan have carried it off triumphantly, mixing the classic Smashing Pumpkins sound - would we want it any other way? - with Corgan's surprising good mood. While there are less sanguine songs on the record, for example the gorgeous acoustic 'Of a Broken Heart', the majority of the tracks betray Corgan's newfound happiness, a highlight of these being 'Ride a Black Swan', perhaps the best amalgam of the sonic aspects of classic Pumpkins and the sensibilities of Corgan's new direction. That's not to say the big man has forgotten how to rock, and there are a fair share of his awesome solos to be found, especially on the 14 minute epic 'Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea', atually two songs together. As with all truly great records, the album grows on you, and I certainly found myself favouring different tracks with every listen - even the tongue in cheek 'Baby Let's Rock!' appealed to me after a few listens. While perhaps not quite matching the peaks of the Smashing Pumpkins, let it not be forgotten that this is Zwan's first record, and if we were to compare the two bands as directly as most music scribes have, as a first record Zwan have surpassed expectation; only a stoned bassist could prefer the Pumpkin's debut 'Gish' to 'Mary Star of the Sea', or anything in Corgan's back catalogue. A terrific record.