SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN.
Even in this age of inevitable reboots and reunions, getting the original Smashing Pumpkins lineup back together was going to have a high degree of difficulty. Billy Corgan had expended so much energy further establishing himself as the band’s visionary since the departures of James Iha, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and bassist D’arcy Wretzky—the walk-back would need to be careful. And it has been. “We’re not always good friends to each other, but our friendship is really deep,” Corgan told Beats 1 host Zane Lowe. “I had this moment when we were working at Rick Rubin’s on this music—I looked across the room and just had this sense memory of being in my dad’s house with James. This relationship that goes back now 31 years just blows my mind, but here we are. We’re still playing guitars and we’re still little kids chasing the riff or something. It’s beyond my conception.” Though the nostalgia and goodwill was not enough to get Wretzky back into the fold, the result of the first album with both Iha and Chamberlin since 2000 (as well as Iha replacement Jeff Schroeder) is pure Pumpkins. Characteristically logorrheic album title aside, the eight taut songs—the longest is under five and a half minutes—eschew the conceptual excess of many Corgan-driven exercises and, surely not by accident, recall the ferocity of the Siamese Dream/Mellon Collie glory days. The bouncy backbeat of “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)” channels “1979,” while the rumbling proto-metal crunch of “Marchin’ On” and closer “Seek and You Shall Destroy” channels 1979. Maybe it’s Rubin’s back-to-basics production approach or the overall spirit of reconciliation, but there’s a lack of fussiness that directs the band’s inherent drama into all the right places.