I consolidated pretty much every Smashing Pumpkins song on a Spotify playlist and listened to it for three days. The band’s new album, Monuments to an Elegy, is not at all a reflection of the characteristics that I once thought defined the Smashing Pumpkins. I’ve now determined that the quality of the Smashing Pumpkins’ music is almost entirely dependent on lead singer Bill Corgan’s voice.
Back in the day, in the albums Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) and Siamese Dream (1993), lead singer Bill Corgan’s voice was like that of a whining mosquito. The second song in Mellon Collie, “Tonight, Tonight” has a catchy repeating guitar riff in the background, but whenever the refrain comes along, I have to skip to the next song because his voice just doesn’t work when he’s trying to sing high notes. But there’s this incredible song in Mellon Collie called “Zero,” which blasts out of the speakers with stunning electric guitar and Corgan’s unique voice, which actually sounds incredible when he’s screaming.
Basically, in the 90s the best songs were the loud ones because those are the ones in which Corgan’s voice excels. “1987” and “Disarm” are two more examples of the type of song that I originally thought defined the Smashing Pumpkins. However, as I continued to listen to my enormous playlist, I realized I was wrong.
Recent albums Oceania and Monuments to an Elegy, and parts of the Teagarden by Kaleidyscope break what I thought was a clear trend. And by that I mean that Corgan’s voice actually sounds good.
Monuments to an Elegy contains a mixture of loud and more toned-down songs, but I can listen to all of them without remarking on how bad Corgan’s voice sounds. As a result, the album as a whole is easier on the ears. This said, I find this album a bit boring. Although the previous albums contained a ton of songs that I couldn’t listen to, the ones that I did like were surprising and original. Monuments to an Elegy sounds almost generic. Now, I’m not saying that this album is bad. I would praise Monuments to an Elegy if it were produced by a more pop band, but considering the aforementioned past albums, the Smashing Pumpkins have a lot more in their arsenal than what they showcase in this latest album.