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...
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