CD Cover Smashing Pumpkins

Review by Darren Kerr

It's amazing that the Pumpkins have made it this far. I figured that, after the death of keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin and the dismissal of drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, Billy Corgan would be embracing spirituality or seclusion, or maybe growing some hair. No, Corgan has taken the time to contemplate his place as both vampire and victim, perfectionist and pessimist, and he has infused Adore with a robotic elegance and memorable melodies.

Trouble is that, as with U2, I don't consider the Pumpkins to be a rock band anymore, just some untouchable entity that is destined to be Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. It's sad that even as Corgan sings of personal trials and tribulations, I think of him less as human and more like Bowie's Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Adore is a gentle album. Corgan isn't frothing at the mouth here. The psychotic grinder "XYZ" (from Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness) is a whole other rabid planet away. Corgan must be observing Trent Reznor closely, because the canvas that a few of these songs are painted on bear his signature static sound wash, as well as the peripheral machine blessings. "For Martha," "Tear" and "Crestfallen" all have peaceful melodic meditations. "Ava Adore" is as heavy as it gets with its sci-fi chug and Corgan wailing on about drinking mercury and dressing coffins. Elsewhere, like on "Blank Page," things are sparse, hinging on the sincerity of Corgan's voice to carry the song through.

I like Adore more than Melon Collie because, for the first time in a while, I can hear more song and less posturing and ego in Corgan's voice. I still return back to the days of Gish though, when the band used to just plug in and explode.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on December 5, 1998

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