The Smashing Pumpkins
Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.
Napalm Records · November 16, 2018
Shiny and Oh So Bright lacks the edge and intensity that defined the Pumpkins’ best works.
All of the drama surrounding the Pumpkins is integral to understanding the context of their music – which is similarly tumultuous and poignant, and it always has been – until now. Shiny and Oh So Bright lacks the edge and intensity that defined the Pumpkins’ best works. This new album certainly bears the image of their trademark sound. Tracks like ‘Seek and You Shall Destroy’ ‘Solara,’ and ‘Marchin’ On’ mimic the heavy, dark guitar of their early years, but the image displayed now is a mere silhouette, lacking depth and substance. Shiny and Oh So Bright feels like a portrait drawn from memory of the Pumpkins’ glory days – the form is accurate, yet all the genuine, authentic detail that brings most meaning and beauty to it has been forsaken with time.
There’s still a sort of aching beauty to it, sure, but it’s a sentimental, nostalgic beauty, built on coming to terms with emotions of the past rather than expressing the raw, unadulterated feelings of the present. You can tell the emotion is there, lurking somewhere in the depths, but it feels murky and unclear. It’s not for lack of emotion or effort that this album suffers – it’s lack of clarity. Tracks like ‘Knights of Malta’ and ‘Marchin’ On’ are wrought with anguish and potency aplenty, yet it feels disingenuous and shallow. ‘Marchin’ On’ with its almost accusatory forcefulness, still feels like only a mere caricature of the Pumpkins’ previous intensity.
The Smashing Pumpkins may lack only a quarter of their original lineup, but what they lack from their original quality of work is much greater. While this album marks the passing of many of the band’s problems, the maturity it has apparently brought to them, Corgan especially, has been ill-expressed. It lacks inspiration – this album was not made because they wrote a bunch of good music and it was time to publish it. This album was made because the band was back together and they needed a new album, something they could publish, to commemorate that. In doing so, all the Smashing Pumpkins managed to create was a lackluster caricature of their glory days.