The Smashing Pumpkins, that earthshaking rock band of the 1990s, broke up in 2001. Most of the members -- James Iha, James Chamberlin and Melissa Auf Der Maur -- have embarked on solo careers, with varying successes. In the meantime, frontman Billy Corgan put out a book of poetry and started a new band, the sadly short-lived Zwan.
Now Billy Corgan has gone solo for real, with "TheFutureEmbrace," with his usual mixture of self-examination and brooding music. It doesn't exactly forge new territories, but the echoes of the Pumpkins merely enhance the dreamier, softer sound.
"All things change/never rest, never sure/what is worth/fighting on for?" Corgan asks in the dream-rocker "All Things Change," over a bed of buzzing guitars. That dreamy sound continues throughout the album -- sometimes it's laced with synth blips, sometimes with airy distortion.
In fact, "TheFutureEmbrace" might have simply floated away if Corgan hadn't included some grittier songs to ground it. "Mina Loy (M.O.H.)" kicks it off with some twisting synth, drum machines and a dark bassline. The songs in that vein are catchy and gritty, so it keeps the whole thing from seeming a bit too art-rocky.
Who will like it? Fans of Corgan will more or less know what to expect, and will probably enjoy it. Those that don't like Corgan's past work probably won't like this either, because it has Corgan's style written all over the album.
With "TheFutureEmbrace," Corgan has taken a slightly different musical turn. The harder rock of his old days has been replaced by a haze of synth and some murky dreampop guitars. All the songs feel softer and more comfortable, like shoes that have been broken in. Corgan's vocals are still a bit nasal, a bit high, but he puts so much passion into his singing that sooner or later you get yanked in.
The odd thing is, he seems to be at peace. There is pain and unhappiness, sure -- at one point he seems to be explaining his past work, by announcing "a naked soul just has to grieve/if I bleed, the camera cries." But Corgan also sings that "we can change the world," and announces, "only you remind me/that only love can find me." It's not really Corgan's best work, but it's still very good songwriting.
Billy Corgan's return is not a smashing rebirth, but a quieter triumph that takes awhile to fully sink in. A solid solo album, and definitely one worthy of praise.
on 30 June 2005
Billy Corgan's place at the front of one of the 90s most important bands, The Smashing Pumpkins, has given him a lot of leeway to explore his own muse, and in recent years his work with the group Zwan and work on albums by New Order have suggested a comfort with the 80s electronica that was part of his youth. TheFutureEmbrace mixes his immediately recognisable, perfect rock voice with a lot of heavy synthesiser in a way almost guaranteed to suggest New Order, Human League, The Cure and Japan brought into the neon glare, and heavier edge, of 2005. Whether you like this or not will depend a lot upon your visceral reaction to 80s heavy eyeliner bands, and German synth-era David Bowie. Fans of The Smashing Pumpkins won't be able to take an obvious leap between the two, but there is a better place for Cure fans than their own recent album.
on 9 August 2005
This is a very good album, if you were a fan of adore then this is definitely worth listening to. It's not quite on par with some 'pumpkins stuff but it is awesome none the less. Billy has adopted a cool new approach to guitar, mixing an electro sound with subtle guitar, much like in Adore. A must have for any Smashing Pumpkins fan.
on 14 November 2008
Not his best work by a mile, but there's still some quality to be found here. Billy Corgan has an unerring ear for a melody, and writes songs that creep up on you then won't let go.
When I first heard Future Embrace I was a little deflated by how dated it sounded. Rather than "Future Embrace" it felt more like the "80s embrace". And whereas we've grown use to Jimmy Chamberlain's rich, complex and indeed peerless drumming on past albums, the use here of drumming tracks felt like I was being seriously short-changed.
That said, this album is not without it's merits. Standout tracks from the first few plays were DIA and Mina Loy - worthy or any album and indeed strong candidates if there was ever to be a Billy Corgan greatest hits. But then, with further plays other songs began to creep up on me. I love "Now and Then" and "Strayz" is sung with such heartfelt sincerity that it is impossible for me to hear this without getting a lump in my throat.
If you are considering buying this don't expect a Smashing Pumpkins immitation. There's shades of Adore in here but it feels like Billy's consciously trying to distance himself from his earlier body of work. This album,along with his Pumpkins work and poetry book show that it is hard to pigeon hole this multi-talented and multi-faceted man. it's not his best work but still worthy of your time and money. It says something that while I can only give it 3 stars (in relation to his other work), there would be a big void in my music collection if this wasn't part of it.
on 2 August 2005
Yes, this takes a while to get into and I mean 5+ listens but once you get there these songs really get under your skin and have you humming their melodies and whispering lyrics.
It isn't an upbeat album, but behind the darkness in the production the lyrics are tame in comparison to the bitterness of Corgans previous work but his style is still evident "on the 9th day God created shame"- Walking Shade.
Apparantly there is only one guitar track on each song, sometimes it sounds like this was a mistake sometimes it just sounds great, heavily effected guitar sounds, distorted drum machine beats and sequenced basslines, it really is all the tools of '80's industrial music, I like that combination but it isn't everyone's cup of tea. But like any good revival it couldn't sound like a record created in the 80's the production is bangup to date regardless of the core equipment.
on 21 June 2005
Well, I have to admit I was a little unsure of how this would sound (even as a huge Billy Corgan fan). Corgan's "no album x 2" rule seems to have come into play again, as this is a massive departure from the enormous rock sound of old.
Closer resembling a balance between "Adore" and "Machina", "TheFutureEmbrace" is a beautiful, glittering yet somewhat jaded affair. The guitar sound is cut to a minimumin favour of edgy synths; at times the sound almost threatens to shatter around your head whilst maintaining an elegant beauty I still can't put my finger on.
As for the songs themselves, Corgan has lost none of his songwriting talent. "Mina Loy (M.O.H)" and "Walking Shade" are among the best songs he's ever written, and the rest of the album is equally good. Lyrically "TheFutureEmbrace" is impeccable (somewhat of an improvement over some of Zwan's iffier moments), back is the rage and angst of the Pumpkins but in a far kinder way as is love in a subtle sense.
Finally going under his own name after years of practically being a solo artist, Billy Corgan has come up trumps yet again. "TheFutureEmbrace" is a fantastic album, haunting and very much alive with passion and spirit. Only question is where can Corgan go from here? I for one can't wait to find out!
on 11 February 2006
TheFutureEmbrace sounds like former Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan has stumbled upon an old Victorian time machine, travelled back to England 1982 to soak up the goth, pop and new romantic movements, before travelling back to Berlin, circa '77, to jam with Kraftwerk and the Thin White Duke. Either that or he's decided that he had so much fun producing Adore in 1998 that he's decided to do it all over again... only this time, under his own name. TheFutureEmbrace is an album that sounds like the Pumpkins as they moved towards the goth/electronic phase of their career, but at the same time, is an album that also sounds like a Depeche Mode covers band in need of a serious direction!!! Corgan clearly loves the British new-wave movement, drafting in the cold dissonant synths of the Mode, the bleak and fragmented lyrics of Station to Station/Heroes era Bowie, the cold delivery of Ian Curtis, and the fuzzy guitars and the air of overblown melodrama favoured by The Cure. The fact that any semblance of the Pumpkins (in any of their previous guises) manages to permeate this clouded melting pot of references and ideas is a surprise in itself... though, whether or not this is considered be a good or a bad thing will be completely down to the individual.
If you walk into TheFutureEmbrace expecting Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie style stadium rock you will only be disappointed. This is like Adore/Machina, only with even more electronic doodling and less of the trademark Corgan guitar... instead, we have all manner of icy and angular style keyboards, electronic drum beats, programmed samples and treated-guitars (to the point where they no longer sound like guitars) forming the backbone of the album; over which, Corgan chants vague and repetitive lyrical snatches in the most robotic-like delivery possible!! Musically the album is fine... Corgan seems to favour the idea of atmosphere rather than pop sophistication, to some extent creating an album that is even more languid and meandering than the underrated Adore, and again, shows that Corgan has been reading the "how to create the perfect new-wave dreamscape" handbook, whilst simultaneously fanning through his stacks of early six-form poetry. Certainly the album is well produced, but surely this is expected from the team behind the epic and still surprisingly fascinating Mellon Collie album?, with Corgan and Co. managing to get the subtle symbiosis between the cool digital instruments and the fuzzy analogue blips just right, creating in the process, an album that is bright, vibrant and futuristic (in the best possible sense) but also cold, dated and decidedly retro (in a maddeningly self-conscious sense!!).
I respect the fact that Corgan is attempting something different, attacking a personal concept and applying it to a style of music that he is (mostly) unfamiliar with. But much of the album is dull, and if I'm being completely honest, many of the songs and lyrics left me completely cold. On the first listen, none of the songs really stood out. The same thing could be said of the second listen, with only the pretentiously re-titled Tolovesomebody standing out from the crowd (which is unsurprising really, given that it's a Bee Gee's cover, and not a Corgan original!!). On further inspection, the second track Mina Loy (M.O.H.) stands out as one of Corgan's best compositions ever. The Camera Eye isn't bad either, bubbling along on a processed guitar ripple replete with analogue distortions and synthetic blips and bleeps (in fact, on further listening, it's a potential classic).
At least half of the album could probably be thought of as pop music from the future. In fact, Corgan could probably make a pretty good living scoring science-fiction films, creating strange alien pop music to play in the background of high-tech scenarios. The other half of the album, however, just sounds like poor synth-pop knock-offs with navel-gazing lyrics. To call these songs bad would probably be a little unfair... but certainly they lack any real depth or interest, and instead, tend to come across as nothing more than a self-conscious pastiche. A100 is one of the album's weaker points, trekking across ground already covered by Adore more than half a decade earlier, ripping off synth lines from Depeche Mode's Violator album and generally reminding me of that awful budget dance track 'I Like the Way You Move' by the Bodyrockers (or whatever they were called?). Along with the opening track, All Things Change, as well as Sorrows (In Blue) and Pretty, Pretty Star this makes up the downside of the album, with too many songs that either sound the same, sound like other artists, or worse, sound like self-parody.
Dia sounds like a New Order song... in fact, it sounds exactly like the New Order song that Corgan collaborated on (Turn My Way from 2001's Get Ready), but despite this, it's enjoyable enough, if hardly revolutionary. Now (And Then) is another fine song, drawing more obviously on the sound of the Pumpkins - particularly some of the lullaby rock songs from Mellon Collie and Adore - with Corgan's warm and reassuring words resonating over the minimal electronic backing track. On the whole, TheFutureEmbrace remains a bold and interesting attempt by Corgan to push his musical pallet forwards into new and previously unexplored directions... it's not entirely successful, with a few songs ending up dead in the water, but on the whole, it works, and a number of the songs do grow on you with time. Certainly not a masterpiece by any measure, but a definite grower, with enough musical high points to endear it to the heart's of anyone with more than a passing interest in synth-pop/electro-pop, or Corgan's career in general.
on 13 October 2014
This is the only Solo album so far from smashing pumpkins main man Billy Corgan..I guess you could argue that is maybe not wholly the case as some of his 'group' works have essentially been solo recordings given Billy's sometimes tendency to record the additional parts himself however this doesn't sound like a pumpkins album.
Yes we have Billy's vocal but musically it's less Guitar driven and very much Billy's Synth album.
It features guest spots from Robert Smith and Emilie Autumn and is steeped in a post punk feel..stylistically it's nearest the pumpkins 'adore' album though in truth....this CD has it's own character separate from his prior band and ZWAN.
I have waited a while to buy this as I had the feeling I would be underwhelmed..however no such worries this stands aside from his other bits but is no weaker for that.
on 22 June 2005
TFE combines a new found lyrical honesty from Corgan with the musical purity of synth pop that reverberates his trademark aching vocals and leaves an indelible mark on both heart and soul.
If there is any justice, Billy Corgan will go down in history as one of the best singer/songwriters modern music has had the privilege to hear. Most remember him from his past incarnation as the baldheaded frontman of Grammy award winning The Smashing Pumpkins. For all those that can find the Corgan courage to let go and embrace the future, they will find an exhilarating, enlightening and beautiful Present.
Like anything groundbreaking the album has invoked a bitter love/hate divide: like most works of art. The Pumpkins' album 'Adore' when released was slated by critics and fans alike as it made a journey away from its predecessors; it is now hailed as one of the best Smashing Pumpkins albums ever made... how times change.
If you want to relish in "i told you so's" or simply be ahead of your time, then embrace the future of this soaring album that ranges from the brooding tempests of wounded souls in 'Mina Loy' and 'The Cameraeye' to the heart crushing melodies of 'To Love Somebody', 'Now and Then' and 'Sorrows'.
In total Billy Corgan has smashed through past, present and future tenses to give us an album that's sublime, that transcends and defies all musical boundaries. Be Brave: explore it, listen to it... repeatedly, and if you dare... travel through time with Billy Corgan.
Where will he take us next we sob...
on 12 August 2005
This is reminiscent of Adore, but it is not quite as good. It has a lot of growers on it, and also has songs that you know are good instantly such as "The CameraEye" and Mina Loy (M.O.H.). I think Billy does the electo/rock mix very well and with some very cool sounding guitar.
This is a must for any Smashing Pumpkins fan, or fans of later 'pumpkins albums.