New Release (EMI/Martha’s Music)
Before Billy Corgan pushed the band over the edge into prog excess, Smashing Pumpkins were getting deep into melody, releasing two albums (Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness and the underrated Adore) that were all about the songwriting. Oceania finally picks up that thread, and it’s good enough to excuse all the confusion of the past decade and a half. The first surprise is how warm and inviting it sounds, steering clear of the brittle metallic sound that’s been Corgan’s default mode since Machina. Which isn’t to say there aren’t walls of guitar; “The Celestials” and “The Chimera” should satisfy anyone who never got past the first two Pumpkins albums. But this disc is proudly eclectic, from the jangle pop of “My Love is Winter” to the multipart epic of the title track. And if the song titles make it sound like Corgan’s got lost in prog-rock abstraction —something he’s done in the past — then check out the lush synth-pop number “One Diamond, One Heart” whose chorus (“In your darkest night, I’m always on your side”) is the most direct and most generous statement he’s made in years.
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