Monuments to an Elegy
BMG Rights Management
This wants to be some sort of Smashing Pumpkins rebirth, one of several attempted reboots, but a pretentious title and Billy Corgan’s annoying whine of a voice is about all this has in common with when his band-name/brand-name once delivered the right kind of shoegaze-for-stadiums slacker-anthems. The opening brace of full-blast whiney pop songs on Monuments to an Elegy, either the 50th or fifth Pumpkins album – or somewhere in between, but beyond a pack of dribbling weirdos that has held on for whatever sniff of a “return to form” who, really, is counting – is indication of what’s to come, attempted epics, cut short because Corgan is bereft of ideas.
This is a thin and trim album that doesn’t so much suggest any kind of refinement, more a desperation – these were the nine songs that could (just about) pass muster.
There’s some weirdly awful stuff here too – like Run2me where you imagine Corgan as this creepy Uncle Fester-type chilling on the sidelines of a Spring Breakers-styled party-pills piss-up fiasco. And he’s just there hoping to get noticed, wanting to be the old hip guy but instead simply the out of touch, out of time freak. And he of all people should know: cool kids never have the time…
Monuments dabbles, too, in those awful water-colour washes of sound the kids are so taken with. But here he tries to apply them to the old Pumpkins template – the drums in particularly sounding grunge-lite, revoltingly so.
Where Corgan’s best work had his voice buried inside the blurred lines of crayon-smudged guitars he seems to have decided, annoying, adenoidally, that he is some sort of singer. This has been a very bad move. And it’s a large part of what ruins these songs – that and the bloodless playing from an assembled band of that’ll-do-ers never getting close to what made the Pumpkins work in and around any vision from Corgan.
His time has been. And gone. And it went swiftly. The arrogance, the absurdity, the annoyance – yes, he was hard to take. But also – past the fourth album (and that’s being overly generous even) the songs have just been dreadful. When they’re not completely and utterly ghastly they are like trainer-wheels versions of what he wrote 20 years ago. That’s not how anyone should want a career to work – and it’s why Corgan’s doesn’t (really) work. He’s poison. His name is mud. And his music is the colour and texture of mud too. But it smells a lot worse.