Following a revolving door of musicians and a handful of releases received to mixed responses, ‘Shiny And Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.’, sees The Smashing Pumpkins return to form.
With original members Jimmy Chamberlin and James Iha joining Billy Corgan for their tenth album, the chemistry runs throughout the record.
‘Knights Of Malta’ begins with a bouncing piano progression and smooth strings holding a tight melody before Corgan‘s vocals appear. With a soul inflection on his voice, the track shows a new spin on the group’s sound. Alongside this, murky bass lines and sharp hi-hats drag the pop sensibilities into a swirling chorus packed with guitar leads and sharp strings.
‘Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)’ brings the group back to an earlier sound reminiscent of 1993’s ‘Siamese Dream’. Using fuzzed out power chords as a base, the verse draws on the vocal melody and spaces in between to create a dream pop track that stays in your head. Simple yet effective, the main melody doesn’t outstay its welcome with deviations taken via lush strings and surf pop inspired leads to keep you on your toes.
Keeping on the route of distorted melodies is ‘Solara’, a track that plays with tension to maximum effect. Circling around tightly palm-muted guitars and stabbing chords, the verse plays with expectation, allowing the tension to be broken on a whim. Punk chords dominate the chorus, unleashing a fury that is seldom seen on the group’s later releases.
Originally intended for previous record, ‘Monuments To An Elegy’, the track is strong for having Chamberlin on drums, with energetic fills driving the bridge to becoming an album highlight.
‘Marchin’ On’ showcases how strong the song writing can be when The Smashing Pumpkins are firing on all cylinders. Blocky chords slide around FX laden lead melodies before using Corgan‘s vocals to drive the track. Using a call and response method of the line “Body and soul”, it never lets up, holding on to you until its abrupt end.
With a range of styles and dynamic methods on display, The Smashing Pumpkins takes their back-catalogue and creates their own highlight reel. With it being their shortest release thus far, ‘Shiny And Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.’ shows them playing on their strengths. It may be a safe record, but it creates anticipation for what its sequel will bring.