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Music review: The Smashing Pumpkins 'Oceania'

The Smashing Pumpkins release their seventh studio album, “Oceania.”
Published: August 10, 2012

The telegraphic urgency of the twin guitar attack launched by Billy Corgan and Jeff Schroeder at the outset of album opener “Quasar” sets the emotional thermostat on high and Corgan's passionate whine keeps it there throughout the 13 tracks that form The Smashing Pumpkins' seventh studio album, “Oceania.”

So begins the latest installment in the Pumpkins' ongoing 44-song conceptual work-in-progress, “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope,” but tracks such as the universe-embracing electric love song “Violet Rays” and the guitar-and-synthesizer-layered rock 'n' roll heartbreaker “My Love Is Winter” stand on their own as some of indelible melodies Corgan has created since “Gish” (1991) and “Siamese Dream” (1993), arguably two of the most trailblazing albums to roar out of the alternative vanguard of the early '90s.

Some may miss the signature grunginess Corgan created with long departed original guitar partner James Iha, discarded here in favor of sleeker six-string rhythms and flourishes and a much heavier reliance on electronic keyboards. But “Pinwheels” is orchestral alt-pop grandeur without the grunge, its rich mix of acoustic and electric guitars, synth-strings and bassist Nicole Fiorentino's vocal harmony a perfect complement to Corgan's heartfelt ode to the moon.

He may be the last man standing from the original Pumpkins lineup, but he still knows how to throw big dollops of '70s prog rock, dashes of heavy metal and splashes of psychedelia into a sonic blender and swirl it around dream-pop melodies, lofty lyrical sentiments and earnest vocals and came up with an awesome audio identity that's often imitated but never duplicated.

— Gene Triplett


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