Volume 93, Issue 92

Thursday, March 23, 2000


Indie Gurus happily advise Shoegazing

Dalai Lamas bring peace of P-funk

Pumpkin's Machina sadly pandera to public

Pumpkin's Machina sadly pandera to public

Smashing Pumpkins
Machina/The Machines Of God

The release of 1998's Adore saw Billy Corgan publicly eschew the Smashing Pumpkins' trademark hard rock sound in favour of a more melodic and experimental approach.

After the subsequent commercial failure of that phenomenally underrated effort, Corgan retreated back into the shadows, re-hired original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and openly set out to make an album with the electric guitars plugged back in.

This begs the question, if the Smashing Pumpkins are, as they would have us believe, misunderstood artisans who value the integrity of their work above public reception, then why release Machina/The Machines Of God, an album so blatantly conceived to pander to a power-chord hungry public?

It's not like the Pumpkins aren't fully capable of rocking out – debut album Gish and subsequent followup Siamese Dream are widely regarded as some of the most creative and important guitar albums ever released. By consciously setting out to record a certain type of album, Corgan is stunting the band's creative potential.

The result is an album attempting in vain to recreate the riff-heavy atmosphere from the band's early years. Corgan's songwriting ability is clearly impeded by his curious desire to feed the masses – witness the plodding, tuneless and pointless "I Of The Mourning."

The first two singles from the album are probably a poor indicator of its overall quality, or lack thereof. Lead single "Stand Inside Your Love" is an epic affair which, despite being more straight ahead than Pumpkins' songs of the past, is a typical exercise in rock euphoria. Opening track "The Everlasting Gaze" is easily the most enduring rock track on this album. Featuring a buzzsaw guitar riff, Chamberlin's explosive drums and Corgan's nasal screech – it's the sound of a band trying to muscle their way back into widespread musical acceptance.

Unfortunately – with the exception of the superb "Try Try Try" – everything else here soon degrades into pompous, formless excursions into the deepest realms of guitar wank.

Not recommended, especially for those who respect the Pumpkins for their interesting and often daring forays into new terrain. This is a backwards offering which, with any justice, will ultimately be regarded as an untimely and ill-advised blip in the band's otherwise commendable catalogue.

–Mark Pytlik

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