40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
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.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2007
It has been a while since the smashing pumpkins made a truly great album (probably since melon collie) so I didnt expect much when I saw it advertised. However I was wrong to think they had lost their talent for making music. Zeitgeist, for me, was a brilliant album. Lively and well crafted all round. Highlights for me included tarantula, doomsday clock and united states. It is hard to say whether other people will like it though because the smashing pumpkins have tried so many different styles of music over the time. If you liked their earlier rock stuff however then you should like this album.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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 16 February 2013
I came to the Pumpkins late. I'd heard some of Adore and liked it, but didn't really discover them properly to Machina era. I liked that album. Then I heard Mellon Collie, and the rest followed from there. Personally, I think Zeitgeist is a great album. A good two thirds of the album are killer. The irony is that as Billy's voice has grown weaker, his lyrics have grown stronger. Many of the earlier releases I can no longer listen to as, musically superior they are, I can no longer relate to the lyrics. I personally come from an electronic music background, and so like a lot of his solo output and much of adore. I also enjoyed a few, but not all, of the Zwan tracks. My favourite corgan tracks are appels and oranjes, stand inside your love, broken heart, raindrops and sunshowers and a few off this album (bring the light, that's the way [my love is], Bleeding the Orchid, come on [let's go]). What are like about this album is perhaps the one thing that many don't like about this album, and that is the production. It has an unfinished feel, like a really good demo. After the high production values of previous, which they have been occasionally criticised for, I found this lo-fi approach to be very refreshing. There is an energy and vitality to this album that is very fresh. If you didn't know about their previous output you would say that this was a new band. Billy Corgan is one of those songwriters crying out to be covered by younger vocal talent. His lyrics are intelligent and thought provoking (particularly on the newest album Oceania - i'm not sure if the special k lyric is a reference to breakfast cereal or illicit drugs. If it's the latter, it's a bit hypocritical given his previous stance towards former band members.)
on 9 October 2012
Who would think we'd have a new Pumpkins album in 2007, seven years after the band had, well, disbanded. Of course, the world knew Corgan would be reforming the band when he took out the full page adverstisement in the Chicago Tribune back in 2005, the same day his solo album TheFutureEmbrace, came out. That was the first time the public was aware of Corgan's intention to reform the band.
Apparently, it was also the first time the actual band members themselves had heard of it. According to James Iha, he hadn't spoken to Corgan in years, and D'arcy likewise was MIA. When it came to actually record the album, only Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin, the Pumpkins drug-addict drummer (at least he was a druggy back in the 1990s), were on board.
So what does this all mean to the band's image and the public'c perception of the album? Note, I'm not talking about the actual music on ZIETGIEST, which is actually quite good.
Cynics felt Corgan was trying to cash in on the Pumpkins' name, since no one has really paid that much attention to his solo efforts, either with his one-off band Zwan, or his record FUTUREEMBRACE. People tend to dismiss ZIETGIEST out of hand, simply because it only features half the original band. Both cases (though there may be some truth to the first charge), are not really valid, or if they are valid, don't really effect one way or the other how the music actually sounds, or diminishes the Pumpkins' legacy in the least.
Now, some bands can survive personnel changes. Some can't. The Doors couldn't survive Jim Morrison's death, even though they they have toured in recent years under the moniker Doors of the 21st Century, till Densmore sued Manzarek and Krieger, an so changed the name to "Riders on the Storm," still a Doors derivative. I'm a huge Doors fan, but didn't even bother with this distraction. Then we have Led Zeppelin, who, after John Bonham died in 1980 after choking on his own vomit due to drunkenness, wisely called it quits. R.E.M., perhaps unwisely, decided to remain an active recording unit after the departure of drummer Bill Berry in 1997. Then we have The Who, who not only recorded two albums after Kieth Moon's death in 1978 (they would not record a studio album for well over twenty years following these two panned records), but continued to tour and even record a new album after John Entwhistle's death in 2002, leaving only half the band.
What does all this mean to The Smashing Pumpkins? Well, a lot actually. It proves when it comes to personnel changes, you must look at each band individually. To take one aforementioned example, Zeppelin quit because the band's success relied totally on all four members. You could probably argue the same with R.E.M. With the Pumpkins, however, that's never really been the case. Sure, D'arcy and James helped contribute, but they are also there to service as much a part of the image of the band as for what they brought to the sound. And here's why.
The Pumpkins have always been about Corgan, almost to the point where you could argue that of all the major rock bands to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s, the Pumpkins sound the most like a backing vehicle for Corgan's music. Most of the Pumpkin's songwriting is credited to Corgan. There's been allegations that SIAMASE DREAM was almost entirely recorded by Corgan himself, as he was not happy with the band's playing. As it's always been about Billy anyway, though I do miss Iha and D'arcy, their absence doesn't mean this isn't a Pumpkins record. That allegation would have a lot more weight of D'arcy, James, and Jimmy all recorded an album without Corgan.
As far as Corgan trying to cash in on the Pumpkin's name, I have more respect for him than that. While I do think it's true he is trying to get back into the forefront of rock audiences, I think it's more about trying to get back into the mainstream than to do with pure money. He should be set for life anyway, but who the hell knows with celebrity finances.
All that said, what about the actual music itself? Well, thematically, it's something of a departure from the band's previous subject matter. Corgan said the album was largely about "love, loss, and the government", and largely in that order.
The music itself is largely in the vein of their previous album MACHINA, only without the confusing-as-hell storyline (if it even does have a real plot to it, which I doubt). The music is hard driving, with plenty of guitar solos, etc, and phenomenal drumming by Chamberlin. For those looking for the next MELLON COLLIE, don't bother. ZIETGEIST doesn't have the eclectic songwriting that made MC so fun to listen too, nor does the band branch out in so many different territories as they did on MC.
Chamberlin has said that was intentional - they wanted to keep the sound of the album more basic, and not really get far out into the whole artsey-fartsey scene. "The mindset of the record was to put our best foot forward and not get too artsy. We wanted to try to create a body of work that was concentrated enough to bring back a fan base and invigorate a new fan base. We kept it pretty close to the chest, and we didn't branch out too deep into art zone while we were writing the record." It's sad, really, because it was fun seeing how far out the Pumpkins could really get out back in the mid 1990s under Corgan's leadership.
The band has never been really overtly political, and this is the first really political record Corgan's ever made. Actually, this political awareness gives critics a lot better ammunition against Corgan than the whole idea he's trying to "cash in". It's clear from the whole affair that Corgan is using ZIETGIEST as a bid to become culturally relevant again in an era where the media and the public really haven't been following him for the last several years.
As there's been a lot of political commentary in rock and roll, from Greenday's rock opera AMERICAN IDIOT to the soon-to-be very dated Neil Young effort LIVING WITH WAR, you could make the argument Corgan was using politics to make himself a voice that people listen too again. Even the coverart, which reminds one of the famous ending of the 1969 film PLANET OF THE APES, feels rather reactionary. To Corgan's effort, the politics doesn't sound forced, and he does incorporate his political ideoligies pretty well into the Pumpkin's image, but it still feels rather odd, given how unpolitical the band has been for the majority of its lifespan.
Overall, a good record, and sounds, minus the politics, a natural progression from ADORE, MACHINA, and the never commercially released (but widely distributed) MACHINA II. Some good rock songs too.
Album: US #2, UK#1
"Doomsday Clock": 81
"That's the Way (My Love Is): #23
The following B-sides have been released: Death from Above (4:06), Steller (6:22), Zeitgeist (2:49), and Ma Belle (4:08).
The following outtakes are known to exist: "Gossamer", "Superchrist", "Signal to Noise".
EDITION NOTES: the album ahs been released in several different special editions, as well as having the primary colour of red on the cover art be altered on these new editions.
on 24 November 2011
After a 7 year hiatus due to a break-up in 2000 and then a subsequent reunion in 2005, The Smashing Pumpkins, minus James and Melissa, finally release new material. "Zeitgeist" possesses their distinctive sound and their front man Billy Corgan still takes centre stage but, at times, the sound is not as raw and dark as their previous efforts making it their least interesting work to date.
"Doomsday Clock" is reminiscent of their previous hits and is a stomping rock tune. "7 Shades Of Black" is less immediate but just as effective after a couple of listens, portraying the angst in Billy Corgan's voice. "Bleeding The Orchid" is a dark rock track with heavy electric guitars and a fantastic melody. The second single "That's The Way" and "Starz" have a more commercial and radio friendly feel to them as they are more middle of the road and softer than what the band tend to create, but they do work. The effective lead single "Tarantula" is another heavy guitar led track with a slight pop edge. "United States" is an intriguing 10 minutes long creation with a powerful message and dark arrangements making it the most interesting composition on this album. "Neverlost" and "Bring The Light" are strong but once again quite gentle and more pop driven. "Let's Go" brings back the energy and drive that they once possessed and has a great melody and powerful arrangements. "For God And Country" and "Pomp And Circumstances" have electronic pop influences, making them very different and more original than the other songs.
Although "Zeitgeist" feels finished, it is not as impressive as all of their earlier work and seems to lack charisma and originality. This could be due to the bands missing members or due to the musicians they have chosen to replace them, but it is a welcome return nonetheless.
on 23 March 2009
This album had suffered at the hands of many old-school SP fans who have condemned it as being not much more than a Billy Corgan solo effort. (He wrote and performed nearly the entire record, with only other returning member Jimmy Chamberlain on drums.)But when this album is treated with patience, it is well worth listening to.
The first half of the album is largely made up of heavy rockers and stadium-sized ballads. Opening track Doomsday Clock gets the ball rolling with a drum intro and a blast of guitar distortion. It carries an apocalyptic theme that carries through most of the album. Tarantula is a similar song, only the lyrics opt for a lighter subject matter.
Among the best on the record is the stadium rock song Bleeding The Orchid, where the heaviness is let up for a softer affair that still packs a punch. Starz is almost reminiscent of the kind of unique kookiness that the Pumpkins carried on the notable album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The centre of the album is comprised of the 10-minute epic United States, a slow burner at first, but with repeated listens it becomes one of the strongest tracks, with its thundering drum beat and heavy riffs.
The second part of the album carries across similar themes. Although also being solid, this half is not quite as impressive as the first. Neverlost's melodic hum and God and Country's war criticism are probably the highlights here.
Throughout Corgan uses his typically unique love-or-loathe vocals, and his lyrics are decent, albeit unusual at times. Guitar-wise he also has some nice ideas, although nothing revolutionary. Chamerlain's drumming is easy to hear, even if you weren't aware that he featured, his distinct, pounding beats are given a good production job.
In conclusion, it may not be as good an album as Siamese Dream of Mellon Collie, but Zeitgeist can easily be seen as a successful comeback by the Pumpkins with half the previously available staff on hand. It's a raw and anthemic album with a good, back-to-basics production that was much needed after the electronic experiments of Machine/Machines of God. It should stand the test of time as a good, solid rock album.