The Smashing Pumpkins are not the band they once were, both figuratively and literally, with Billy Corgan being the only original member now in the band, as well as a switch to a more psychedelic almost uplifting tone in their music, its fairly safe to say that The Smashing Pumpkins of the 00’s is a very different best to that of the 90’s incarnation.
All of this makes “Oceania” a very interesting album in the band’s catalogue. Following on from 2007’s massively overlooked “Zeitgeist,” “Oceania” is a much broader, more immersive entity than its predecessor, thus making it a more satisfying listen overall.
There is no denying that Billy Corgan is an exceptional songwriter, albeit one that needs to be reigned in at times, but here he seems much freer than he has in years, ideas breathe and flow but never buckle under the weight of self indulgence, songs are layered to a point where they will keep you coming back to them over and over again just to keep discovering new things.
Opening track ‘Quasar’ is about as good as anything you will find in the bands repertoire, its an instant classic, sucking you into the world of Oceania from the get go leading you down the rabbit hole, and showing you what lies ahead. First single, ‘The Celestials’ has a familiar yet modern feel towards it that is reminiscent of the bands “Mellon Collie…” days which will no doubt please long term fans of the band.
Elsewhere, the labyrinthine title track works its magic over you like a snake shedding its skin, as it changes and morphs over the course its 9 minutes, leaving you hypnotized, but never bored, even as the longest track on the album It never falters or outstays its welcome.
The Smashing Pumpkins may never reach the commercial highs of their earlier days again, but with a rejuvenated line up and a reignited sense of creativity, there is no denying that at least artistically the band is only going to soar to higher and higher heights.
“Oceania” is a minor miracle, it may not be reinventing the wheel, but it has definitely helped to once again raise the profile of The Smashing Pumpkins, one can hope that even if it doesn’t put the band back in stadiums, it will at least put them back in people’s minds.