Billy Corgan has always aimed high – and it’s not entirely his fault if he hasn’t always managed to get there in the past. After solo effort of ‘The Future Embrace’ effectively sank without trace, it’s not surprising that he chose instead to revive the behemoth brand of The Smashing Pumpkins. After all, there’s no doubt that people will at least buy a Pumpkins album, even if they end up hating it.
Luckily, that shouldn’t be the case with ‘Oceania.’ While previous album ‘Zeitgeist’ sounded more like Billy Corgan and friends, rather than The Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Oceania’ heralds a long overdue return to form and manages to incorporate many of the trademark sounds of the Pumpkins without any of the self-indulgence that Corgan has previously fallen victim to.
The layers upon layers of electronica are a new addition, but this time the album manages to avoid going overboard on the production – the slick beats are instead nicely complemented by Corgan’s nasal tones and the distorted guitars. Indeed, the electronic element only serves to highlight just how well Corgan seems able to utilise it; creating a darkly metallic sound that lurks underneath every track.
Opener ‘Quasar’ doesn’t shy away from the heavier side of things – rumbling steadily onwards with all the power of an oncoming freight train, it presents an all-out assault. The guitars stab and twist through the waves of fuzzed out distortion, only briefly slowing down in order to rev up for the final push.
At just over nine minutes, title track ‘Oceania’ is the longest on the album. Hypnotic and mesmerising, it commands attention and the constant underlying power shows Billy Corgan at his best – simple and electrifying. ‘Oceania’ is a journey within itself and without a doubt the stand out track of the album. ‘Pale horse’ has a tough act to follow but holds up well, haunting and unhurried after the psychedelic swirls of ‘Oceania.’
Listen to ‘Oceania’ in the hopes of another ‘Melon Collie’ and you’ll be disappointed. But take it as a new Smashing Pumpkins album and it isn’t half bad at all.