I confess that I am in the group of those who have not expected great things from Smashing Pumpkins, to put it mildly. Does that mean facing this new operatic work divided into three acts full of prejudices? Can be. What I do know for sure is that if a song as vulgar as “Beguiled”which at times seems like a deflated and almost parodic version of “zero”stands as a single from a trilogy that will have some thirty cuts, things start off on the wrong foot.
His previous work, the futurist “Cyr” (twenty), It was already as long as it was irregular, but it had its moments: or at least, I was determined to find them. But when an artifact as hideously excessive, erratic and uninspired as this arrives, a supposed sequel to “Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness” (95) and “machine” (00), my alibis are running out.
The enigma of how some guys who at the time composed memorable songs like “Today” either “1979” they end up in this kind of eighties gap, it would give for a philosophical treatise. And it is true that the group’s mutation into a highly polished indigestible pseudo-progressive rock band dates back a long time. Courtesy, I imagine, of visionary Billy Corgan. Maybe the problem is basic. Because let’s be honest: if the debatable idea of ”rock opera” was great for The Who -without discussion, one of the greatest rock bands this planet has produced-, Corgan and his acolytes did not have an easy time retaking the effort. And finally, from the bombastic atmospheres and the plucking of “ATUM” A whole experience awaits us.
Because to the decent and very popper chorus of Butterfly Suite horrendous ultra-processed guitars and laugh-out-loud choruses follow: it fills up the display of too many not-so-bright ideas, layers upon layers of produced sounds and melodies that roll on in the style of…yes, a rock opera. the blunt “The Good In Goodbye” It doesn’t start badly, but it soon ends in cloying baroque style. Then we have the progressive AOR of “embrace”, with its discount electronics, its celestial corillos and the little piano along Coldplay…Not even in the most intimate moments do they free us from sugary arrangements (the start of “With Ado I Do” is half arranged in the chorus). The overproduction ofHooligan” it sucks. “Steps in Time” (with its doubled guitars) has a pass, although it also suffers from the excesses that camouflage the lack of substance. “Where Rain Must Fall” It is an eighties radio formula without much grace.
But things get worse: the riff of “Beyond The Vale” and the fake kettledrums are ridiculous, as is the (intentionally funny?) carnival party of “Hooray!” Luckily the vocal melody and the chorus of “The Gold Mask” they evoke (Hallelujah!) past glories. But it’s too late. The disc has finished.
Ambition has never lacked for Corgan, that’s clear. The problem is when that ambition is channeled fatally wrong. Fear gives what awaits the brave who dare with the two remaining parts.
Smashing Pumpkins, review of their album “ATUM – Act I” (2022)