Oceania is the latest album from Alt Rock royalty The Smashing Pumpkins, or if your feeling somewhat cynical Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins tribute band. I must admit I went into this record with low expectations, ever since the reformation and reshuffling of the bands line up and Corgan’s ambitious (to say the least) 44 song project Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, my affection for the group just hasn’t been the same.
But having listened to Oceania a number of times now I can honestly say I am very pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Granted im not quite ready to run down the street informing my neighbours very loudly of the bands triumphant return but, I do find myself somewhat turned around by this record.
It rips open with the fantastic “Quasar” which shows the band coming correct with a heavy, dense guitar sound that isn’t afraid to get loud and scrappy. This not only sets the record off right but acts like an unexpected jolt of energy right from the beginning. This momentum carries on for quite a while as does the heavy guitar fuelled sound, but what the band exert in noise dosent detract from melody. Tracks like “Pale Horse” and “My Love Is Winter” show us that Corgan still has the gift of good songwriting and a knack for nailing soft, sweet, catchy vocals. Corgan’s proven in the past that he has a good understanding of dynamics within music and Oceania serves as a fresh reminder of that. He knows when to take things up a notch and he knows when to slow things down to focus. Granted the album does have a few moments when momentum slows down a little too much and it could have done with a being streamlined a little more. But if you put these occasional inconsistencies aside you can hear a much stronger and much more confident Smashing Pumpkins record than many of us we’re expecting to hear. Oceania might not be up there with some of their previous work but it certainly re-captures both the audiences imagination and interest. Which in my case was something I feared was lost for the longest time.