Album: Billy Corgan

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The Independent Culture

What on earth happened to Billy Corgan? The talent that drove the Smashing Pumpkins to global success seems to have abandoned him, first with his dismal post-Pumpkins heavy combo Zwan, and now on this solo debut, as sorry an album as any major rock star has made this year. That's a brave way to start, you might think, as the opener "All Things Change" unfolds in slurry swirls of distorted synth and guitar noise marshalled into reluctant shape by a drum-machine - a thick, miasmic sound which apes some of the stylistic breakthroughs of the early Eighties. But then track after track continues in similar manner and you realise this was no one-off gambit, but an entire New Direction. Songs such as "Mina Loy (M.O.H.)" and "Walking Shade" are like the bastard offspring of some grotesquely mascara'd union between the Goth and New Romantic strains of a quarter-century ago - a liaison which reaches its turgid nadir in Corgan's duet with a barely-audible Robert Smith on a stiff, stilted cover of The Bee Gees' "T

What on earth happened to Billy Corgan? The talent that drove the Smashing Pumpkins to global success seems to have abandoned him, first with his dismal post-Pumpkins heavy combo Zwan, and now on this solo debut, as sorry an album as any major rock star has made this year. That's a brave way to start, you might think, as the opener "All Things Change" unfolds in slurry swirls of distorted synth and guitar noise marshalled into reluctant shape by a drum-machine - a thick, miasmic sound which apes some of the stylistic breakthroughs of the early Eighties. But then track after track continues in similar manner and you realise this was no one-off gambit, but an entire New Direction. Songs such as "Mina Loy (M.O.H.)" and "Walking Shade" are like the bastard offspring of some grotesquely mascara'd union between the Goth and New Romantic strains of a quarter-century ago - a liaison which reaches its turgid nadir in Corgan's duet with a barely-audible Robert Smith on a stiff, stilted cover of The Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody", which bears only the vaguest relation to the original tune: trying to follow the melody is like attempting to locate some lost city in an overgrown jungle. It's a jungle from which Corgan needs to extricate himself if he's not to completely squander the fast-ebbing fund of goodwill built up during his Pumpkinhood.

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