In absence of a new Smashing Pumpkins record we have a solo project by Billy Corgan that is essentially the same musical source stripped of percussion and distortion guitars. Ogilala is a folksy acoustic rock record with a lush touch of dazzle and spark. The bustle of acoustic chord strumming and Corgan's passionate voice is enriched by piano keys, strings, organs and even light synths akin to the ones heard on old Pumpkins records. Gorgeous production acoustics give it a earnest, inviting tone but after four good songs at the opening the album lulls into a spell of mediocrity once its best ideas are exhausted.
My biggest qualm with this record is most noticeably absent in my favorite track, "Aeronaut", a toned down vibe alike to The Verve's classic Bitter Sweet Symphony. The track drops the acoustic guitars for a string, voice and piano triplet that feels more comfortable with out the busying strumming of distant chords. The acoustic guitar is film and limp, its chords underwhelming and quiet, the sound of the pick flexing on the strings cast a shadow on the musical make up and empowers a rhythm that's one dimensional and not required.
With that In mind the failings of the record become sorely obvious, the strings or organs lay soft backings to these chord arrangements and the inclusion of pianos often just accent particular notes in the chord. The music revolves around an instrument that's just not working and despite Corgan's sincere singing the songs fall into the flat and narrow of simple compositions. With a lack of depth in that department, repeated listens yield little reward. Its unfortunate but you could possibly chalk this down to a distortion guitarists approach to acoustic not coming off well as many of these songs feel a step away from being Pumpkins songs with blaring guitars! An honest effort but it didn't work for my ears.
Favorite Track: Aeronaut