Just two years after his last album Oceania, Billy Corgan is back under the Smashing Pumpkins moniker to deliver Monuments to an Elegy. This nine-track offering features a VERY stripped-down Pumpkins (meaning just Billy Corgan and guitarist Jeff Schroeder), and Mötley Crue alum Tommy Lee sitting in on drums.
Upon first listen, I was mildly amused with the songs… the same way I have been since Smashing Pumpkins “reunited” in 2007. The sound is pleasant, but that’s about it. However, it wasn’t until another run through that I started to appreciate the pounding drums and the wash of guitars.
Monuments to an Elegy is in fact a much more focused work than it’s predecessor. Aesthetically it’s more comparable to 2007’s Zeitgeist, but the songwriting is much more mature here. The lead-off track “Tiberius” is melodic, big, with some haunting synths and a heavy Tool-esque middle section that will make you wonder why no one does guitar riffs anymore.
“Being Beige” is an uplifting single-worthy tune. Tommy Lee’s cymbal bashing is what keeps the energy of this song up until moving into “Anaise!”, which is a strikingly different sound for Corgan. Pulsing funk bass with 80’s style synths dripping over the top. A very interesting track.
“One and All” bursts through with gritty riff and a wall of guitars that never really lets up for the next 3:45. This one is perhaps the most reminiscent of some older Pumpkins (the 2000 Machina era).
“Dorian” showcasse Corgan’s admiration for Depeche Mode, and harkens back to the days of Adore.
Bottom Line: Surprisingly, Monuments to an Elegy is a very strong record. The rock is back (largely thanks to Tommy Lee’s bashing away), but there are still beautiful moments and some quite clever ones as well. Having found Oceania lackluster, minus 2 or 3 songs, I’m quite pleased with this new collection and would say it’s the best Smashing Pumpkins release since reactivating.
Tracks to Check Out: “Monuments”, “One and All”, “Tiberius”
Categories: Album Reviews