Album Review: The Smashing Pumpkins - 'Monuments to an Elegy'

On "Monuments to an Elegy," Billy Corgan and Co. finally indulge Smashing Pumpkins fans with the album they've been wanting to hear for 20+ years now.

??While the majority of the post-reformation Pumpkins albums have been weighed down by *too* much experimentation, Monuments to an Elegy plays somewhat like a career retrospective of very good b-sides.

It goes without saying that Corgan isn't going to top Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - maybe not even the unfairly-maligned Adore - but the fact that he's looking to emulate those albums (and trying hard) is a welcome change of pace from Corgan's self-indulgent and weird antics that have made casual fans write off new Smashing Pumpkins altogether.

If you haven't enjoyed a Pumpkins album since 1995, please take note of this one, because Corgan wasn't lying when he wrote "guitars, guitars, guitars and more guitars" on his blog to hype Monuments to an Elegy.??

Corgan finished the above statement with "but more so on the epic side of things than say, grossly metallic." This is both true and false.

Yes, the songs are indeed epic, and they aren't "grossly" metallic, but they are *vaguely* metallic, in the same sense that the Pumpkins always excelled at somehow making tranquility sound not only huge but kind of heavy as well.

The riffs that follow the first refrain of opener "Tiberius" wouldn't be out of place on a stoner rock album and "One and All" sees Corgan getting a little more snarly than usual and might be the most aggressive song out of him since "Zero" or "Bullet With Butterfly Wings."??

The jagged bass intro of highlight "Anaise!" sounds a little like Modest Mouse's major-label work until a big open chord crashes in and whisks the listener into Siamese Dream land, which is probably the Pumpkins classic that Monuments to an Elegy most resembles, although "Run2Me" and "Drum + Fife" recall Adore's electronica and Mellon Collie's sweeping ambition respectively.??

Aside from sounding so damn good, Monuments most impressive quality is that it's masterfully edited and restrained. The album only contains 9 tracks and the longest is barely over four minutes long. Of those songs, only one, "Anti-Hero," isn't very good.

The album's closer's palm-muted power chord riffs are so bland, predictable and Guitar Center-y that it's hard to imagine a known perfectionist like Corgan allowing them to make the final cut.

A shame too because "Dorian" would have closed the album on a high note. ??

This is a minor gripe though, especially for a band whose best days have long-since passed and whose fans have appropriately lowered their expectations. Hell, they might not even be upset if these songs take up a good portion of a Pumpkins' live set.

All of that said, be sure to rock this one LOUD while waiting for Monuments to an Elegy's counterpart, Day of Night, which should be out sometime next year. Expectations officially raised.

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