I Wanted to Write About the New Smashing Pumpkins Album–But Then I Got High

Alright, fine: I didn’t get high. But the brief review I wrote for Zeitgeist was so bad I decided to scrap it in the interests of preserving my on-line legacy (such as it is). Seriously, I could’ve done a better job writing for Eye of the Tiger back in high school; I was one step away from, “Ohmigosh, it’s, like, the greatest CD I’ve ever heard!” I don’t need to write like that, and you certainly don’t need to read that kind of drivel. Trust me.

But I will say this: the song “United States” might be the single-greatest achievement of Billy Corgan’s career. I say this fully cognisant of the fact that Corgan wrote “Thru the Eyes of Ruby”, my undisputed favourite song for almost a decade. But this song is all kinds of awesome: it’s ten minutes of Iommian riffs, Jimmy Chamberlin’s peerless signature drumming and vague insinuations about “wanting to fight” and “starting a revolution tonight” (and no, I still haven’t figured out what that means–deciphering Billy Corgan’s poetry has never been easy). “United States” is as ambitious a song as “Glass and the Ghost Children” from MACHINA/the machines of God, but the differences between the illustrate the relative merits of MACHINA and Zeitgeist. Whereas “Glass and the Ghost Children” is ten minutes of overproduced sludge in which Corgan rambles on about being Jesus Christ (no, really), “United States” is stripped down (unless you’re philosophically opposed to multilayered guitar tracks), aggressive and unrelenting (it actually gets better the longer it runs). The song is an example of what can happen when megalomania meets talent meets restraint, and the result is an absolute masterpiece. It’s amazing that a band, sixteen years (and one break-up) removed from its debut, can sound as inspired as this.

One more thing: Corgan has shed some of his Gothic tendencies, but there’s still a song on the album called “Bleeding the Orchid”. What is this, fucking Cradle of Filth? Other than that, you owe it to yourself to check out Zeitgeist. Otherwise, download “United States”. You’ll thank me later. Trust me.

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