on 22 July 2007
People have been lining up to have a pop at Zeitgeist, including a ridiculous amount on here who penned reviews based on hearing the first (and poor) single, hearing a couple of dodgy live outtakes or obtaining, (cough) "an advance copy" (cough).
It's easy to have a pop at Billy Corgan. He wears his heart on his sleeve and has done a complete u-turn on his millenium 'rock is dead' rhetoric. His notorious 'artistic temperament' makes him an easy target and always will do. That said, he remains the one true survivor of the early 90s US alt-rock scene, (now that Pearl Jam have well and truely gone down the mainstream route with their sub-U2 latest offering and Rolling Stones support slots) and i'd suggest his longevity is in no small part down to his willingness to try new things and experiment with new sounds. For me he stands alongside Cobain as the only 2 real talents of that scene.
So to Zeitgeist. Id dispel the 2 most common criticisms thus:
"It isn't Mellon Collie / Siamese Dream"
- Of course it isn't. Since when did the Pumpkins EVER try to recreate previous albums? This was the band that issued a double album that went 13 times Platinum in the US alone, then followed it with a complete musical right turn to the 80s electronica-inspired Adore - a superb album, if commercially unsuccessful.
"It's only Billy and Jimmy, therefore not the Smashing Pumpkins"
- Siamese dream was written and performed almost exclusively by BC and JC as well. Let's face it, although we miss them D'Arcy and James Iha were always the Pumpkins' window dressing.
So forget bemoaning the fact BC and JC aren't still stuck in the 1990s and instead enjoy a record that shows flashes of sublime quality of the type many of today's overhyped young pretenders would give their right arm to be able to produce.
"Bleed The Orchid" is a Pumpkins classic that would sail effortlessly onto any 12-track 'Best Of'. The poppy "Bring The Light" would sit astride many a popular radio playlist were it being performed by The Killers or Razorlight. "Doomsday Clock" and "United States" are OTT, loud and just plain evil tunes. Corgan's ear for glorious melody is fully intact on Starz, Pomp & Circumstance and That's The Way (My Love Is). In true Pumpkins fashion the album is over-long and contains a couple of filler tracks that could've easily been left off the final cut. Most disappointing is the bizarre decision to release different editions of the album with different bonus tracks exclusive to each. A pretty poor show, especially when 2 of the bonus tracks "Gossamer" and "Stellar" are amongst the strongest tunes from the Zeitgeist sessions. Both should've made the 12-track (at the expense of Tarantula and Neverlost i'd suggest). You've done yourselves no favours there, guys.
Overall this is a damn good album. It sits comfortably within the Pumpkins catalogue and shows there plenty of life in the old dog yet.
Long may they rumble on.
on 18 July 2007
I, like many of the other reviews that I have read, was not overly impressed with this album when I first heard it. This was a huge disappointment to me as Zeitgeist was one of my most anticipated albums since I had first heard of the reunion.
I really liked Tarantula and Doomsday Clock, but nothing else stood out. However, I kept wanting to listen to it and I'm thankful to say that after about 6 or 7 listens, I really like it now, and it stands up well against their back catalogue. I always thought Machina was a bit of let down, bar a couple of classics such as Everlasting Gaze and Stand Inside Your Love. This is a return to form in terms of consistency. Every song is strong apart from United States which, despite some good moments, is a bit of a self indulgent dirge. My highlights are Doomsday Clock, 7 Shades of Black, Tarantula and Bring The Light, which contains some wonderful guitar, powerhouse Chamberlin drumming, and great tempo changes. Doomsday Clock and 7 Shades of Black are two heavyweight old school Pumpkins rockers, and Tarantula hears Corgan's sublime screeching guitar return after an absence of far too long. There are still moments of Corgan's mellower more romantic side with the likes of That's The Way (My Love Is), which is in the vein of Zwan, which is not such a bad thing in my opinion. Corgan's willingness to experiment is still evident in For God and Country and Pomp and Circumstances. These two tracks require the most patience, but are rewarding in the end.
The album has been criticised as not being a true Pumpkins record due to the absence of Iha and D'arcy, but the fact that it is well documented that the Pumpkins masterpiece Siamese Dream was almost solely recorded by Corgan and Chamberlin renders this criticism void. Zeitgeist doesn't reach the sublime heights of Siamese Dream or it's excellent successor Mellon Collie, but it is still a worthy addition to your Smashing Pumpkins collection.
on 31 July 2007
I've given Zeitgeist 4 stars on the review against the standard edition.
This Special Edition is best avoided - it just isn't worth the money. For the extra dough you get:
- The same album, no musical extras.
- The exact same artwork, though packaged into some arty photo-album format. It's actually quite naff.
- Erm....that's it.
Pretty poor im sure you'll agree. If you're going to release a special edition at least ensure there's something 'special' about it. Otherwise you're just ripping fans off.
on 13 July 2007
Zeitgeist hits the mark with enough of that Pumpkins passive aggressive sound still remaining intact after all these years, courtesy of Chamberlain's distinctive jazz trained hands and Corgan's heavy but never cliche'd fret work.
There's a few filler's on here but what SP LP doesn't have them (except for the sublime Gish)?
If you only bought Mellon Collie then you might not "get it" the first few spins, but it'll get you in the end!
Interesting to note that a few have said its not as good as Siamese Dream because D'arcy and James aren't there. The fact is, Siamese Dream was largely a Corgan - Chamberlain recording, as is this!
All we need now is a new album from the Pixies and I'll die a happy man!
on 18 July 2007
I was never a big lover of the Pumpkins' ballads off of the earlier albums. So, after hearing Tarantula and Doomsday Clock, decided to get the latest album as both songs were very energetic (like all my favourite Pumpkins songs off of Mellon Collie...). After reading some of the bad reviews I was not expecting the overall album to be very good, but, in my opinion, it is easily the best Pumpkins album overall. Most of the songs have tremendous energy and the sound is very fresh - not just a rehash of the old Pumpkins sound.
on 11 July 2007
Zeitgiest has come in for some fairly hefty criticism from certain quarters, but much of it is unfair. The new look Smashing Pumpkins may be missing James Iha and Darcy Wretzky, but the fact remains (with respect to the distinctive guitar work of the former) that it was always Corgan and Chamberlin who were the key members of the band. This being the case, it would be fairer to dismiss the excellent Adore as 'not a Pumpkins album' than Zeitgeist, seeing as Chamberlin was absent for its recording.
Other reviews seem to focus their criticism on the fact that Corgan is said to be an 'egomaniac'. So what if he is? We're listening to the music not indulging in a character assasination of its creator...
But I digress... Zeitgiest is good. It doesn't reach the dizzy heights of Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, but it compares extremely favourably when placed against what else is on offer in 2007. Recognisably a Pumpkins record, but not a blatant attempt to rehash former glories, it combines the powerful guitars of Mellon Collie with some of the more pop-y sensibilities of Zwan and touches of the electronica and style exhibited on 2005's, The Future Embrace.
The musicanship of Corgan and Chamberlin are as impressive as ever - the latter's drumming particularly helps elevate Zeitgeist way above run-of-the-mill rock/emo offerings with its sheer power. Corgan's lyrics largely cover familiar territory, although he does touch upon political themes at times. Zeitgeist is by no means a political album though and Corgan's strength remains more personal and emotional topics.
Starting loudly with Doomsday Clock, a classic Pumpkins track, and finishing softly with Pomp and Circumstances, a personal favourite and one of the offerings taking its cues from The Future Embrace, the quality rarely lets up throughout the 12-track album. At near 10 minutes, United States is perhaps too long (or not interesting enough to justify its length), but the remainder of the songs ensure things move along at a fast pace.
Zeitgeist is not only what many long-term Pumpkins fans will have been hoping for, but also a good introduction to the band's music for new listeners. Hopefully, it's just the first chapter in this second incarnation and there's more to come from Corgan and co...
The Smashing Pumpkins are back. The legendary rock band, which blossomed like a dark rose in the musical wasteland of the 1990s.
Okay, only frontman Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin have returned from the original lineup, and the absences can be detected. But their return album "Zeitgeist" is still worthy of epic praise -- dark, passionate hard-rock, written with a darkly poetic sweep. Too bad the extra material isn't so good.
The drums smash, the bass roars like unleashed tornado. "Is everyone afraid?/Is everyone ashamed?/They're running towards their holes to find out/Apocalyptic thieves/Are lost amongst our dead," Corgan drawls, telling us a story of gas masks, Kafka and fear.
It's followed with the roiling rocker "7 Shades of Black," with the level of depression you'd expect ("And without peer/And without fear/I'm without anyone at all!"). Then it pours into a series of blazing hard-rockers -- soaring grimy epics, buzzing and cascading bass rockers, a stripped-down melodic tune, and the soaringly exquisite "Pomp and Circumstances," which is only marred by Corgan singing "la la la la..."
"Zeitgeist" probably won't be gently compared to the Pumpkins' earlier classics, especially since it doesn't have James Iha and D'arcy Wretzy from the original lineup -- valuable talents both. But taken on its own virtues, it's brilliant hard-rock -- epic, dark, and with moments of sheer poetry woven into the stormy music.
If I had a main complaint, it would be that the softer songs are rare here, and that the bass doesn't have that epic quality in some of the songs. But Corgan is blazingly passionate in his playing, layering and building a storm of driving guitar and fuzzy bass. He pushes on the fiery melodies of each song, with Chamberlin smashing the drums beside him. These guys sound kinetic.
And Corgan's nasal voice sneers and drawls through the harder songs, but he can also sound wistful and tender, like when he sings, "that's the way my love is." And he pours plenty of passion into his songs, which seem to balance out between the happy and sad -- on one side, a crumbling, bitter apocalypse, and on the other, "no shadows follow me unsung."
Some of his songs aren't up to par lyrically, like "God and Country." But Corgan spins his weird poetry in other songs, like the the ethereal "Pomp and Circumstance": "Torn, broken and frayed/Oh don't we face/War, sunshine and grace/Oh won't you stay/For a while/We can fail in style..."
The special edition of "Zeitgeist" also comes with a eightyish-page booklet, but to be perfectly honest, the booklet is kind of pointless. It's primarily filled with arty photographs -- Paris Hilton in front of a burgeoning nuclear explosion, a grim reaper on the presidential podium, a Roman soldier, coffins, and quite a few others. They're interesting photos, but not really worth exerting yourself for, and they don't reveal much about the album itself.
The Pumpkins aren't quite all they once were here, but Corgan and Chamberlin are enough to make "Zeitgeist" a brilliant hard-rock album with some vintage flourishes. Just take it for itself, with no comparisons.
on 15 March 2014
It's not Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie, it's a different album, get over it.....now that's cleared up, on to my short review.
I love and appreciate it when other people get all meticulous and go through the track list etc., but I don't do it myself!
This is a great album, if it was their first release instead of Gish, it would still not be as big as or loved as much as the a fore mentioned albums, but it would be appreciated and given the credit it deserves, I'm pretty sure. There are a lot of reasons people like to pooh on this newer, (not newest), version of the SP's, both the fans and critics, but the fact of the matter is, that if you take away all the moronic, pointless comparisons and negativity, and just let the album speak for it's self, it more than stands up with most of the SP's back catalog. Music is personal, so of course everyone can't and won't feel the same, but I believe some of the negativity towards Zeitgeist is jumping on the bandwagon stuff, also it's a grower, it makes you work a bit for your reward, that being, a very interesting, haunting in places, record, the production isn't bad, it's different and makes the album less, not more bland, it just takes a bit of time to peel this onion. In reality it's a 4-4.5 star review, but I feel like defending this album a bit, sticking up for it against the jock bullies, that being said, Amazon is the place were it seems to have the highest amount of acceptance, Billy should have called it, "Listen without Prejudice"
on 2 July 2007
When I firsty started playing this album a few days ago I approached it with some skepticism. Some of Billy Corgans recent work including "The Future Embrace" and Machina has been ok but has not blown me away like Mellon Collie and Siamese dream did.
This album exceeded all expectations and is up there at the same level as Siamese Dream / Mellon Collie. Maybe not quite as good but it comes very close.
Favourites are 7 shades of black, Bleeding the Orchid, Starz, United States, Bring the Light and Pomp and Circumstance but all of them are good. There is not one filler on this album.
United States is an epic song, the drumming is fantastic and the ending was just outstanding.
Pomp and Circumstance is very strange. First listen I didn't really get it as it was so far removed from anything the Pumpkins have done before but now I am really enjoying it. It makes me feel like I am floating in a space ship.
People have criticised their decision to release 4 different albums but this has not merit. Have these people forgotten that they actually released their last album before they split up in 2000 on the internet for FREE?? Also, it is Reprise / Warner Bros that should be criticised for it is them that makes these types of marketing decisions and also it is a bonus track at no extra price. They will all be available in other places as well I am sure. Death from Above is already available on the Tarantula single.
This CD, once released, will be in my CD player for a long long time. One of the best albums I have heard in 10-15 years and I am not just saying this because I am a fan. I was heavily critical of Machina and TFE. Billy Corgan still has a genius ability to write some of the most powerful rock music out at the moment. They don't follow trends, they set them.
I find it hard to put into words how much I love this album - it is simply stunning.
on 12 July 2007
Admittedly I couldnt get into this album at first, but now after many, many listens, I've seen the error of my ways. This album is great!! It really holds its own against the Pumpkins back catalogue. Of course, nothing can touch the greatness of Siamese Dream, but Zeitgeist is one of the best albums Billy Corgan has EVER released. Longtime "fans" of The Pumpkins are too caught up in the past to appreciate this album for what it is. Just because James and D'arcy are missing, they're too ignorant to really listen to this album and realise how great it actually is.
Bands get new members all the time, Red Hot Chilli Peppers are a prime example. They only have two of the original band members left, yet most fans agree that the current band is the best version of the band. Now The Pumpkins only have two original band members left, but it doesnt matter, life goes on, and they're as great as ever.
The best songs on Zeitgeist are...well theres too many....but my top 10, in no particular order are.... Neverlost, Bring The Light, For God And Country, Starz, Tarantula, Bleeding The Orchid, 7 Shades Of Black, Doomsday Clock, United States, and (Come on) Lets go!
So BUY THIS ALBUM! Give it a chance, and you really wont be disappointed