Many smashed pumpkins
29 January 2021-
Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan recently announced that the re-release of 2000's Machina would feature 80 songs. Not entirely surprising coming from an artist's artist who somehow managed to become a mainstream superstar...
The latest release hailing from leading 90’s alt rock band Smashing pumpkins is last November’s “Purple blood” single, as part of the promotion surrounding their new — double — album CYR (the band’s eleventh), which came with a 5-part animated series entitled In Ashes, also written by Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan. The band’s previous effort, 2018’s SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1, seemed poised for a sequel that so far hasn’t come. Their previous two albums were part of a — now abandoned — super-project that was meant to function as a stand-alone system within the band’s discography.
There you have it in a nutshell: the Smashing Pumpkins, following the seemingly endless creativity displayed by Corgan, are a bunch of musicians intent on creating not mere music for our ears, but ever more sophisticated and intricate projects that may or may not end up the way they were initially intended to. A couple of things are of particular note in this interesting dynamic:
- None of the band’s output is ever uninteresting: like The Cure, a band they used to be compared to, or Muse, a band they should be compared to more often, the artistry behind the Pumpkins’ sound is so elaborate that they cannot really do wrong. That has a lot to do with Corgan’s singular vision (the same can be said of Cure’s Robert Smith and Muse’s Matt Bellamy, incidentally), which drives the group towards always interesting paths, if not always straightforward.
- Somewhat incredibly, the Smashing Pumpkins managed to outsell most of their contemporaries in their 30+ year career, even succeeding in producing an absolute classic in the form of 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (another double album). That is where Corgan’s genius truly shows: despite often writing about utterly personal (and usually rather dark) subject matter, the painfully obvious honesty and transparency of his work has managed to strike a universal chord very artists ever were able to find.
And so, even though the Pumpkins started out as a textbook underground outfit, never quite intending to make it as big as they did, they found recognition pretty quickly (their first ever single sold out and they were signed on Virgin Records soon after) and then outright fame almost as quickly, with second album Siamese Dream making the Billboard 200 Top 10… and their third being Mellon Collie. Not surprisingly, Corgan did not seem all that phased by this remarkable success the band had, always pushing for the same level of artistry whether or not it was what the fans had in mind. And so, in many ways like England’s cult alt rock band Radiohead, they gradually forged a very distinctive universe — one that clearly stands out, and will more importantly stand the test of time.
The most recent news we got from Corgan refers to 2000’s album Machina/The Machines of God, and its self-released sequel Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music (see what they did there?) later on that year. What had happened then was that Virgin Records had refused to release a new double album after the 1998 follow-up to Mellon Collie, Adore, failed to meet (sky-high) expectations. While that second volume somewhat alleviated the frustration Corgan felt following this decision, he always considered this an unfinished project — until now. We hear there will upwards of 80 songs in the new and improved version. Can’t wait…