ALBUM REVIEW: The Smashing Pumpkins – Cyr

Release Date: November 27th 2020
Label: Sumerian Records


With a gravitas behind ‘Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness’ and ‘Machina/The Machines Of God’ consistently casting a shadow across the majority of The Smashing Pumpkins, it’s a big risk that the group would create a direct successor to them.

But, with ‘Cyr’, the quartet, tackle that risk head on for their eleventh album, in the form of a double record too.

After the brief and grunge infused ‘Shiny And Oh So Bright Vol 1.’ reaffirming the creative connection of guitarist James Iha, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and frontman Billy Corgan, ‘Cyr’ refuses to glide by as The Smashing Pumpkins employ synths and acoustic instrumentation to their signature sound.

Mapping their sound out from the start, ‘The Colour Of Love’ sits amongst a foundation of sweeping synths and driving bass lines, as Corgan focuses on pop hooks and smoother vocals as opposed to the angsty undercurrent that defines the group to most casual listeners.

With a new formula in hand, ‘Cyr’ touches on a contemporary sound as the title-track displays, with its wide and anthemic chorus showing a new avenue for a group three decades into their career. The same can also be said for the pulsing and catchy ‘Starcraft’ and the simple yet irresistible ‘Ramona’, both of which prove to be relevant additions to an already weighty back catalogue.

This is not to say that The Smashing Pumpkins are chasing an entirely new soundscape, as album highlights ‘Wyytch’ and ‘Purple Blood’ infuse a gothic undercurrent and industrial spike respectively. The same can also be said for late addition ‘Black Forest, Black Hills’ as it blends dark synth pop and weaving guitar melodies to near perfection.

Unfortunately, with being a double album that spans twenty tracks, ‘Cyr’ does become bloated and inevitably loses some of its impact, as tracks such as ‘Adrennalynne’ and ‘Tyger, Tyger’ cause the synth pop and female vocal harmony blueprint to run thin. Sadly, due to the lengthy runtime, album highlight ‘Schaudenfreud’ almost becomes lost amongst the shuffle.

This aside, ‘Cyr’ sees The Smashing Pumpkins tackle a new soundscape with strong results as they don’t lose their identity throughout and create tracks that stand on their own regardless of the legacy of its creators. Granted, some moments do blur into one another, but ‘Cyr’ still has a place amongst its contemporaries.

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