Monday night, I was watching Robert Rodriguez's Machete. I was at the scene where Machete is in the swimming pool doubling-up on Lindsay Lohan and the woman who plays her mom when the following press release leapt into my inbox: “Stream New Album By The SMASHING PUMPKINS For Free Exclusively On The iTunes Store Beginning Now.”
Ignoring the press release, I continued watching Machete. (That night, I had a dream about a homeless person stabbing me in the back with a knife.) I didn't think about the new Smashing Pumpkins album until the next morning, when download links started popping up on the Internet. I downloaded it.
About 24 hours later, I finally got bored enough to listen to it. It's called Oceania.
I know what you're doing here, Billy Corgan! You're trying to make the intro for this opening song sound like the intro for the opening song on Siamese Dream, “Cherub Rock.” The guitar riff begins warbled and very distant sounding, and then it gets closer, and then there's a drum roll, and then it gets closer and then it HITS you. This makes me nostalgic, so I end up listening to four complete tracks from Siamese Dream before I remember that I'm supposed to be listening to Oceania.
One second after I encounter the word “panopticon,” I think about Michel Foucault. And then one second after that, I think about Jeremy Bentham. And then one second after that, I think about how much I hated grad school. And then one second after that, I think about how much I hate just about everything else. Is this how music should make us feel?
This is an acoustic guitar slow jam about trying to stay positive even when the world really gets you down. There are some—ummmm—“epic” distorted guitar build-ups, making it perfect for the Smashing Pumpkins stadium tour that's sure to be announced within the next 24 hours. “Everything I want is free,” repeats Corgan about five times during the outro. And then he sings “You're free with me,” because Billy Corgan has a lot in common with totalitarianism. Is this pop or propaganda?
This opens with some really strange, semi-Tangerine-Dream-like guitar and synth action. But then Billy Corgan sings “I'll kiss anyone tonight,” and it totally ruins the whole vibe for me 'cause now I can't stop imagining my girlfriend and my mom making out with Billy Corgan in a swimming pool at the same damn time. Billy Corgan is the Machete of '90s radio alt-rock.
“My Love Is Winter”
This song was totally phoned in. Billy Corgan just sings “My Love Is Winter” over and over again atop some power chords. I could only make it halfway through before I skipped to the next song.
“One Diamond One Heart”
This is Billy Corgan's attempt to capitalize on trendy indie synth-pop poop. It's really corny. It sounds like something that will be playing in a Hair Cuttery 10 years from now, sandwiched between that one song by Nelly Furtado and that one song by Natalie Imbruglia. Is Hair Cuttery still an option?
If Mark Mothersbaugh, Taylor Swift, and U2 got together to write a song, this is what it would sound like. In other words: shit.
HERE IT FUCKING IS, you guys! The title track! It's 9 minutes long! And it's grueling! “No one can love you, because no one can free you,” sings Billy Corgan. Well, as we learned in “The Celestials,” no one except for Billy Corgan. So many pop records are written from the perspective of the brokenhearted, but Oceania is different. Billy Corgan is not sad himself, but sad for the person who doesn't love him. Namely, he's sad because that person is too much of an idiot to realize the only way s/he will be free is if s/he loves Billy Corgan. Look at the ego on this pumpkin!
Wait, isn't this a Coldplay song?
You know how rap albums have all those features with guest artists? Why don't rock albums have those? It would be amazing to have a few verses in here from the kids in that rock band Metro Station. And I feel comfortable speaking for everyone when I say that I'd love to see Trace Cyrus shake his bony ass in the video.
This guitar part that sounds like a police siren and runs throughout almost the entire song? It's really annoying. The only way Billy Corgan could've made this song more annoying is if he'd named it “Glossolalia.”
Okay, this song is pretty good. Seriously. More so than any other song Billy Corgan has ever written since Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, this sounds like the kinda song he should've been writing since Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Like most of Oceania, it's designed to be played in a stadium, but it's also catchy, heavy, mysterious, sexy, and anthemic in the way that Siamese Dream was.
Billy Corgan's whiny, nasally voice is very jarring.
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