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The Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

Released on Martha's Music/Reprise, 7/10/07

For fans of The Smashing Pumpkins, the seven year itch has been nigh on unbearable. While the "grunge" sound of the 90s that The Smashing Pumpkins were often erroneously lumped in with has come and gone, few can deny that 1995ís Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was a seminal album and one of the greatest of the decade. The talent, imagination, and power of The Smashing Pumpkins was considerable. But, where does one go after such an epic album?

The Smashing Pumpkins would release a few more albums subsequent, but none of them quite approached the stature of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and things sadly came to an end with the band breaking up in 2000. Billy Corgan launched Zwan, released a solo album, and continued to create music, but the perhaps vain hope for a reunion lingered. Seven years later, The Smashing Pumpkins have released Zeitgeist. The band has a slightly different lineup, but there is plenty that should be familiar to fans.

Never shy of tackling the dark, brooding, and depressing, The Smashing Pumpkins jump right in with "Doomsday Clock". A moody, bass heavy track, "Doomsday Clock" is rife with apocalyptic fears and anxiety over the current state of fear. The Smashing Pumpkinís last album was prior to 9/11 and "Doomsday Clock" is but one track that is a clear reflection of the events of 9/11 and the aftermath of the past several years. For those sharing Corganís apocalyptic fears, "Doomsday Clock" should be a powerfully cathartic track.

Corgan and his crew descend deeper into the abyss of apocalyptic musings in "For God and Country", a scathing, skewering track that mourns the decisions made that have doomed countless. Thereís a palpable feeling of futility infusing the entirety of this track. With lyrics such as, "Itís too late for some. Itís too late for everyone. Well who needs this anymore?" itís tough to find any glimmer of hope amidst this mournful track.

But, not all hope is lost in Zeitgeist. In the subtly titled, "United States", thereís no shortage of frustration, anger, and angst, but there is also room for hope in this track. Corganís cries of "I donít have to run scared no more. Fight! I wanna fight! Revolution tonight!" reveals a desire to act for change rather than passively accept current circumstances (and the current regime). Itís one of few tracks that projects a sense of hope.

Zeitgeist is a highly politically charged return for The Smashing Pumpkins. While there are a few tracks that are not focused on challenging the current regime and state of affairs in the U.S., the fact that the cover art includes a striking image of the Statue of Liberty waist deep in water (global warming?) and the sun setting in the background is a strong indicator of the thrust of this album seven years in the making.

The album is far from uplifting, but itís a welcome return with searing lyrics and a return to the aggressive, unrelenting rock that made The Smashing Pumpkins who they were in the 90s and it is a "smashing" return for the most part.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars