Friday, 12 December 2014

The Smashing Pumpkins "Adore" (1998)

The fourth Smashing Pumpkins album is one I have been anticipating with a touch of unease. Having unexpectedly fallen for this band, I realized its been a long time since I've discovered a musical genius with a body of work to explore. "Adore" is where many have cited things dramatically change, and Corgan himself has described it as "A Band Falling Apart". This album sees the departure of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin replaced by a drum machine, which seems to be a keen talking point of this record. The album cover and band's image at the time is very much Gothic, hinting a shift in sound, which was the biggest surprise with this record, there is simply nothing Gothic about it.

Adore has the Pumpkin's sound, but its a shift in style and execution that puts more attention on their gentler side and Corgan's vocals. Theres an unsettled yet relaxing air to this record, its calmer, dramatic in its own way and has a touch of Ethereal influence in the aesthetic as reveby electronics muddle with the acoustic guitars. At first the drum machine was very apparent, very stale and stagnated compared to Chamberlin's free and energetic drumming, the programming felt stiff, a lack of subtle timing or volume fluctuations and no fills or pattern variations made it feel a little droning at times. On some tracks this worked surprisingly well, but overall my reaction was mixed. At times it felt like the drum machine was intrusive, on others it complimented the track. Throughout it melded well with a warm bass that moved well with these acoustic numbers. The electronic elements are somewhat overpowering of the acoustic guitars, but thats its charm, it served to create a unique sound for this one.

Despite a mixed sound, the theme of this album was very consistent. Its a steady, moody ride, full of love, sorrow and romanticized poetry thats lyrically maturer in nature. Gentle and melodic this album drifts though itself and calms into an almost lullaby like state in moments. For what there was to enjoy about this shift in sound, in came in small quantities, only a handful of songs had the substance to make a memorable Pumpkins track, and the songs in between those just didn't captivate like the first few tracks which made for a promising listen. If the drum machine is a problem or not, its irrelevant, some songs just didn't cut it and "Adore" just doesn't have the arsenal their previous efforts had. Its inconsistent, but it does have a couple of gems.

Favorite Songs: Perfect, Daphine Descends, Tear, Pug
Rating: 8/10