Music

Bored Rat in a Cage

The Unwelcome Pumpkins Reunion

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As much as I don't want to say this, I'm just going to get it out of the way really quickly—sort of like ripping a Band-Aid off so it doesn't hurt as much—the new Smashing Pumpkins album stinks. There, I said it.

Man, if my 15-year-old self was around to witness that comment, some serious shit would've gone down. Back in junior high and high school, I was obsessed with the Pumpkins. I read any book or article I could get my hands on, had all their albums, and collected as many bootlegs and b-sides as I could. I made my own Smashing Pumpkins lunchbox. I hated Gavin Rossdale because he hated Billy Corgan. I knew every band member's birthday. I even had a series of questions I wanted to ask Corgan in an interview, such as, "What did you guys do with that ice cream truck in the 'Today' video?" And yes, when the Pumpkins broke up in 2000, I was heartbroken.

But last year, when I heard the Pumpkins were getting back together, I felt an empty pit in my stomach. It was too soon to reunite, and they weren't just coming back with a big tour and all their hits—they were writing new material! (Yikes. I mean, did you actually listen to Billy Corgan's solo album?) That was not a sign of good things to come.

So, it was no surprise that when I listened to the new album, Zeitgeist, I was not blown away. In some ways, it sounds like their older stuff I love—heavy and crunchy with Jimmy Chamberlin's unmistakable drumbeats holding the force together. But I couldn't shake the urge to slap Corgan and tell him, "Stop whining! Your life is not hard!" It just seems like by the time he reached 40, he should have achieved some sort of balance. Maybe it's worse than that, though. Maybe he has achieved balance as a mature adult, and now he's just a poseur pretending to be a sad, misunderstood creature. Either way, Zeitgeist as a whole is boring, forced, and comes off more than a little desperate. Sorry, Billy.

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