Monday, 2 March 2015

The Smashing Pumpkins "Monuments To An Elegy" (2014)

So far I have listened to the Pumpkin's records in chronological order, but while listening to "Machina" I couldn't help myself, after enjoying the "Being Beige" single I was itching to hear "Monuments To An Elegy" and didn't fancy the wait. The group split in 2000 and since Corgan revived the project it has received a mixed reaction from fans on critics alike, but the single promised a sound closer to their "classic" era, one I am very much fond of. On a side note I also like the album art here, whatever it supposed to be it looks different each time I see. Much like seeing shapes and face in the clouds.

Monuments is a straightforward record of simple pleasures, short, punchy songs that get straight to the point. The guitars aesthetic is reminiscent of the "Mellon Collie" era, warm tones of distortion that crash in with big chords and have a diverse composure that find new directions, bordering Indie at times but in general blurring the lines of rock and its counterparts in typical Pumpkin's fashion. Its exciting, an evolution of ideas that retains the core. Alongside the main instruments, Corgan brings in a strong electronic element through bright and vivid synth leads that add an expansive dimension to the sound. Either organs, bells, strings or phased buzz-saws, they gel with a contrast that matures with each listen and familiarity. On one track "Run2Me" a pulse dance beat and bright chirpy synth create a very different flow and vibe that really didn't work for me, it stuck out like a sore thumb in the middle of the decent track listing.

The instrumentals are strong, progressive and focused, but Corgan's charactered singing is the glue holding it altogether, every riff and groove is amplified by the eternal youth of his voice. Now approaching fifty, his voice still has the charm it did twenty years ago, most obvious on "Dorian", the most infectious vocal hook the record offers, one that gets me singing along with the simple to follow afflictions of the name. The chemistry at work on this song is a prime example of the album in its better moments, the instruments come together under his captivating lead, with a punchy dance kit, astral plucked strings, pianos and a crusading flanged guitar orchestrating a big atmosphere. Its a great record, only 32 minutes in length its quick to consume but has great songs and really sets a positive tone for Corgan's current creative state. Looking forward to the next record at the end of the year.

Favorite Songs: Anaise!, One And All, Monuments, Dorian
Rating: 6/10