Sound — 8
With the departure of drummer Mike Byrne and bassist Nicole Fiorentino, Billy Corgan, along with frequent collaborator Jeff Schroeder, recruit drummer and founding member of Motley Crue, Tommy Lee for percussion duties while they aim to end The Smashing Pumpkins' "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope" project with their next two albums, "Monuments to an Elegy" and the soon to follow "Day for a Night."
On "Monuments to an Elegy," it's clear that Corgan wants to make good on his promise to return to form, and for much or it, he succeeds. The album starts off with "Tiberius," a pretty straight forward rock song with an infectious riff that is surely to satisfy fans yearning for the old. It is followed by the "Adore"-era sounding "Being Beige," the first single from the album. When first released, I wasn't too impressed with this song, I liked it, but it didn't really "wow" me, being the first hint of the album. It certainly works better with the flow of the whole album and I have a new appreciation for it now. Corgan ventures into new territories with "Anaise!," a funk-infused surprise. "One and All" is rock track with a Zwan vibe that puts Tommy Lee back in more comfortable waters, though he's pretty solid on the whole album. "Run2Me" introduces the more electronic side of the album, even though Corgan manages to bring the guitar out for the big choruses. "Drum + Fife" is catchy and moves the album along nicely. "Monuments" is built from a solid riff familiar to the heavier, grooves of 1995's "Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness." "Dorian" is the most electronic song on the album and would fit nicely with Corgan's 2005 solo effort "The Future Embrace." The album closes with "Anti-Hero," which reminds me of "Starz" from 2007's "Zeigeist" and in a very good way.
Lyrics — 6
One of the most unique voices in rock, either you like Billy Corgan's voice or you don't. Many think his voice is whiny and nasal, while others feel it almost contributes as an instrument to the music. Either way, it hasn't changed on this album. Lyrically, some people call Corgan a poet and some call him a lyrical over-achiever. On this album we see him, for the first time, underachieving with the lyrics. His as-of-late overuse of the word "lover" can get a little tiring, as well as the vagueness and repetition of many of the lyrics. He doesn't cover new ground here, most of which are about love, lost, emptiness, etc. Good thing the music makes up for this.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this is a very solid effort, surpassing anything Corgan has done since "Machina," including Zwan and a solo effort. As soon as I finished listing to it I wanted to hear it again. And I did. It will be interesting to see the new songs played live now that they've recruited former Rage Against the Machine's drummer Brad Wilk and The Killers bassist Mark Stoermer to rejuvenate their live line up. Corgan shows us that he clearly has some gas left in the tank and this album should have anyone excited on what's to come next year with the release of "Day for a Night."