With Thanksgiving in hindsight, there is still a musical phenomenon to be thankful for: the nineties are still alive and well—sort of. In October, Bush released Man on the Run, a listenable effort coming a full two decades after their full length debut Sixteen Stone. On Dec. 2, hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan released new album A Better Tomorrow, a pretty weak one.
Also on Dec. 2, The Smashing Pumpkins began streaming Monuments to an Elegy via iTunes Radio. The album is the first of two that songwriter Billy Corgan has completed. The second, Day for Night, is slated for a 2015 release, despite being finished.
Monuments to an Elegy is by far the best album Corgan has released under The Smashing Pumpkins moniker since the turn of the century, and not just because it sounds like those from the nineties.
While Monuments to an Elegy does not surpass any of The Smashing Pumpkins’ first four albums, it trumps every one since.
Corgan is practically a one-man band at this point in his career, with the original lineup long dissolved. This album finds him enlisting Tommy Lee for drum duties and Jeff Schroeder for guitar.
While not by any means flawless, the new album is Corgan’s most profound step in the right direction in years. One of the more noticeable flaws is the electronic-laden “Run2me,” which sounds out of place amongst a wall of tracks that could be mistaken for songs recorded twenty years ago by Corgan.
Similar electronic distaste crops up later in the album, on both “Monuments” and “Dorian,” although less bothersome.
More so than acting as the most listenable albums in years, Monuments to an Elegy serves as an appetizer for what is to come, with a runtime of just 32 minutes and a successor already completed.
Lead singles “Tiberius” and “Drum and Fife” indicate that Corgan has returned to form. “Tiberius” in particular is the best effort by The Smashing Pumpkins in years, complete with melody, crunch, and the earnestness Corgan was known for at his best.
Overall, Monuments to an Elegy is a mammoth improvement that does not sit atop the 25-year discography of The Smashing Pumpkins. It does, however, prove that there is more worthwhile material to come.