Zeitgeist review by The Smashing Pumpkins

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  • Released: Jul 10, 2007
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 8.1 (146 votes)
The Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist

Sound — 7
Billy Corgan has been on a fairly anti-climactic roller coaster for the past 10 years. After losing 2 key figures of the original Smashing Pumpkins, Corgan has just not been able to quite make things click musically. Yes, there will always be his staunch devotees who adore every note he plays, but albums like Machina/The Machines Of The Gods and his brief outing with Zwan failed to live up to the glory days of Siamese Dream. Now with the Smashing Pumpkins' latest offering Zeitgeist, the creativity is still somewhat inconsistent. There are moments of brilliance on the 12-track record, but things get a little odd when the political side of the Pumpkins takes over. When Corgan released a full-paged add in the Chicago Tribune in 2005 to express his desire for a Smashing Pumpkins reunion, the action only lured in drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Some may argue that Corgan has been the mastermind behind every Pumpkins' song anyway, so Zeitgeist shouldn't suffer from having only 2 original members. It's true, the album is absolutely centered around Corgan's trademark riff work and nasaly-yet-powerhouse vocals. While there are standout moments, the songwriting unfortunately doesn't live up to earlier works. If you're a fan of the early '90s era of the Pumpkins, you'll relish in the song 7 Shades Of Black. The primary riff has a strong similarity to Melon Collie's XYU, and the song just gets better from there. Between an unexpected key change and solid backing from Chamberlin, it's easily one of the best tracks on Zeitgeist. By now it's likely you've also heard the first single Tarantula, which likewise has that sonic-sounding guitar line running through it. Tarantula doesn't quite match up to a classic like Geek USA or Cherub Rock, but it still features a brilliant solo that (when you listen through headphones) almost sounds like 2 dueling guitars. Bleeding The Orchid starts off with a Beatles-esque harmonized intro and represents the best of the slower-tempo tracks on the album. Corgan really delves into harmonies on Zeitgeist and it paid off. The moments that really come to the forefront are the instances where Corgan throws in layer upon layer of vocals, adding a whole new dimension to the tracks. The harmonies only play against the band in Pomp And Circumstances, which at times feels eerily like a track that could have been on My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade. Corgan adds in some la-la-las at the start with more Beatles' flair and it just feels a little contrived. That particular track is the closer, so it just feels like it's trying too hard to be the grandiose epic of the collection. Zeitgeist has plenty of moments that have been obviously well-constructed and thought out, but the songwriting is just not as memorable as past Pumpkins' releases. For God And Country features a very cool, but subtle synth/piano track underneath everything, but the song itself is somewhat dull. Bring The Light has almost a love child feel to it, but the positive message can't masquerade the mediocre songwriting. All in all, the production quality on the entire record is exemplary, but that's not enough to make a flawless album.

Lyrics — 8
Smashing Pumpkins' fans know that introspective, emotional lyrics have been at the core of Corgan's work in the past, but the frontman has decided to go political this time around. It's understandable that the present state of America is troubling to Corgan, but some listeners might find it all a bit too much. For God And Country is the main offender, and it gets a tad repetitive on top of everything. Corgan sings, For God and country, I'll fight; For God and country, I'll die; For God and country, my soul is so alive, my soul is so alive. The theme is absolutely significant, but it is a distinct jump from the romance-driven lyrics he's written in the past. The subject of love is still represented on Zeitgeist, but there's been a definite decrease in the amount of songs dedicated to it. That's The Way (My Love Is) and Bleeding The Orchid are the most prominent examples, with the latter being the most memorable. Corgan sings, If life is my witness; Love is my song; If nothing means no one; Then blank, I belong. The lyrics are laid out fairly simply, but there's still a poetic quality about them.

Overall Impression — 7
If you're a Pumpkins' fan like this reviewer, it's never an easy thing admitting that Corgan, Chamberlin, and newcomers (bassist Ginger Reyes, guitarist Jeff Schroder, and keyboardist Lisa Harriton) fell short. Zeitgeist does not match up with earlier releases, but it's not an overwhelming disappointment by any means. Some reviews have been merciless, and that's probably directly related to the fact that Corgan has been, shall we say, a domineering personality in the past. If you can get past the personalities, the album is still fueled with some classic guitar solos courtesy of Corgan, and tracks like 7 Shades Of Black and Bleeding The Orchid prove that the Pumpkins still have some magic in their arsenal.

72 comments sorted by best / new / date

    You think the production is exemplary? Its absolutely abysmal. The main offenders are the rock tracks, Doomsday, 7 shades and Tarantula. There the cymbals bleed into everything, the guitars sound very harsh and unrefined, the vocals sound off-key at times (the "you should want it all" part in doomsday sounds terrible). Tracks like neverlost and for god and country seem to come out unscathed but most the album is plagued by terrible mixing and production. Its a shame, because I think there are some fantastic tracks on here, in fact most the album is well written, particularly the slower tracks like bleeding the orchid, neverlost and for god and country. But tbh I can't listen to the first few tracks without cringing at how bad they sound, which sucks because they sound fantastic live.
    Almost forgot to mention my favorite tracks: 7 Shades, Orchid, Tarantula, Starz, United States, Come On Let's Go
    AGREE! it is in the mix. Some really good tunes on there but just sound all muddled or something
    spaceboy85 wrote: i havent heard all of it but what i have heard the mix sounds flat and his voice sounds separated from the instruments, almost like karaoke. which is too bad cuz im sure it would make the album so much better if it was mixed right. i saw them live on letterman last night and they sounded amazing. oh well can't win 'em all
    hardcore fans, let the past go and embrace the now. so what this album isnt their other stuff and alot of it sounds a bit the same but theirs still some good stuff on it..... let the past go! why would you want to make the same album twice
    Anticipation of being disapointed When I heard they were making a new album, I knew it would suck. I was gravely disapointed in the works of "Adore" and "Machina" because it was the pop sensation no one wanted them to be. Now Corgan is trying to re-live the glory of his hard rocking sweetness, which made this album come out into a blur. The Pumpkins are still my favorite, I just hope I can live in the beauty of the past and forget the sketchy present.
    dude i love the album the smashing pumpkins are one of my favorite bands. my favorite songs are probably tarantula,doomsday clock,united states and since i got the target exclusive version the song zeitgeist. yes the pumpkins do sound different from what they used to be but i dont care the still kicks ass and im happy theyre back.
    I think best songs on the cd are Doomsday Clock, Neverlost, and Bleeding The Orchid. Otherwise I think the other track are kind of poor. I think if Trantula had better production that could be my favorite track on the cd. Honorable Mention to United States however because the drums are spot on, and the last part of the song is possibly the most kickass part on the entire record.
    Shredder Guitar wrote: ive only heard tarantula on the radio, its pretty decent. theyll never live up to what they used to be, but who cares? a band's gotta do something different once in awhile.
    damn, well said. its nice to see rational, open-minded people still exist
    The only quips I have about this album are, as previously mentioned, the "you should want it all" moment on Doomsday Clock **cringe** and the fact that the vocals sound kind of separated from the music. I've already listened to the album like 6 times and it's grown enough on me to where I don't even really notice anymore. So yes, I think it's great. Some of the tracks are a nice callback to the Gish days, but they've really established a new sound for them. I'm also glad they're still using Eb tuning, and they're even moving into drop Db, which is kind of cool. Makes them sound kind of like A Perfect Circle. I give this album a 9.5 out of 10.
    Wow, everyone seems to be quite the pretentious Rolling Stonesque critic these days. The mixing is flat, the drums sound bad, the vocals stick out too much, these aren't the original members, it's mediocre, they're not rock gods anymore, blah blah blah. Who cares, it's a Pumpkins album. Enjoy it, and bow down to Willy Corgan and all his majesty. :-P It's a good listen, and it takes me back to the nineties.
    Sense()Offender wrote: Heard a new song at the end of Transformers (movie), and knew it was SP instantly from his voice - heavy ass song, though. What's the name of it? If the album's like that, I"ll get it. It'll be the first pumpinks cd i've ever bought.. haha.
    it's Doomsday Clock and I really enjoy the album, my only complaint would be that it doesn't showcase the different genres Billy has attempted in the past. there is some variation, just nothing like older pumpkins albums great album though
    I know Zwan isn't a Pumpkins disc... that was a wording error on my part, oops. (shiz...)
    justwonderful wrote: (Not sure if this was answered, but the song at the end of Transformers was Doomsday Clock, and it's a lot like the rest of the disc.)
    Thank you! And if it's a lot like the rest of the disc, I will get it. Muchos Gracias, amigo. Paz Y Libertad.
    Eh, there's a lot of similarities with Zeitgeist and ALL the pumpkins albums. I think it fits into almost every era, especially the Zwan era (Starz, That's The Way). In fact, I was listening to "Geek U.S.A." yesterday and the next song was "Tarantula"... I was surprised, how similar they both are. Personally I'd give this disc a 7 or so. I'm hoping this IS like "Gish", and the next disc (if there is one? I'm holding out) is a real masterpiece, like "Siamese Dream". (Not sure if this was answered, but the song at the end of Transformers was Doomsday Clock, and it's a lot like the rest of the disc.)
    xtreme3384 wrote: anyone else love the song "Neverlost"??
    Yeah absolutly, that song really sticks out from all the other tracks on the cd, which is a really good thing because after united states I was already starting to get tired.
    actually I thought the album was quite good it deserves an 8.2 or higher overall...
    i think its good Siamese Dream isnt the only album the smashing pumpkins made lol. every1 acts like "if it isnt as goood as siamese dream its bad" but theres not many albums as good as siamese dream. Zeitgeist is more like Gish
    I was always dreading the smashing pumpkins reunification ever since I heard the rumours. Their new songs will never live up to their old ones.
    spaceboy85 wrote: oh and i guess billy has a thing for weird-yet-hot female bassists...but who doesn't?!
    i thought i was the only one who noticed this haha, cause no one ever said anything about it.
    perilouspete wrote: good, honest review, straighforward. i thought the song united states was pretty cool though, really showcases chamberlin.
    exactly my thoughts. i like this cd...sue me. and i'm a die hard pumpkins fan. yep.
    Good album. United States, Bleeding the Orchid, Doomsday Clock, 8 Shades of Black, Tarantula, are fantastic. Although I think Pomp & Circumstances is my favourite off this album. No one has shown love for that beautiful track. Of course this album didn't show all sides from SP's past, it's still a solid album. Although some of the tracks aren't as strong, they aren't bad. 9/10 for me.
    You cant expect the pumpkin to sound anything like they use to, they have gone through line up changes, disbanded, and re-united several years later. Good album
    This album is really good, i enjoyed every song on it, and i will listen to it again..a lot.
    The revue itself was fair, but how can you revue this album and not mention "starz". That sticks out every time I listen to it. Wicked song. The more bad reviews and angry pumpkin fans I hear, I think I like this album even more.
    Bleeding the Orchid is a ****ing genious song.. apart from that, Doomsday Clock, 7 Shades of Black, Come on Lets Go, Starz and Tarantula are rocking but theyre all good =]=]
    I actually like this album better than their other stuff. I think it's far more consistent. Even though it doesn't ahve an amazing great anthematic track like "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" (although "United States" could probably attain that status if it was shorter), it has far less filler and far less crap than the other stuff. Of course, if you're a big fan of the older stuff, your odds of liking this is lessened. Mostly because you've probably already idealized "Mellon Collie..." and "Siamese Dream", adn nothign will ever live up to that for you. But I gave it a nine.
    nothin is ever going to match MCIS and SD so it's pointless compareing the new album. im a hardcore pumpkins fan from way back, i'm gonna buy the album straight away but im still how do you say 'worried' about it. good review though!
    people are too harsh to judge this album! Just like with alot of albums. Pumpkins 90's album were amazing and it seems like people are trying to compare and expect stuff like that! they still have their sig sound and some brilliant songs on it so be happy! People expected too much! So they crit it too harsh. We should be just happy they are gigging!
    the album is Great! it shows the origanality that SP always brought us. the lyrics are different, but all that shows is that billy could do more that we expect. and if your a real fan you would accept it.
    the album is Great! sounds like the orignality SP has always brought us. the lyrics are different, but all that shows is that billy could do more than we thought. and if your a real fan you would except that.
    i think its good that the pumpkins are broadening their sound, but they deffinetly need to bring back James Iha
    lordpaco18 : im glad they are putting out new material nonetheless on a side not, billy corgan is a dick in person, he lives a few blocks away from me
    that does not surprise me for some reason lol i didnt like the new album the first time i listened to it but im trying to give it another chance. still not enjoying it too much though.
    Dr. Metal Head
    I do find it odd, that the new songs sounded better live than on the record. Because I loved them live, but once I got the CD they weren't so great.
    ummm...am i the only one that believes a band should sound better live than on the album?so what if some of the album isn't up to par if they can do the songs justice live...
    Chamberlin makes SO much difference. The critics are pretty harsh with this album, but I think it's great!
    Funky M0nk
    Its ok...a few good songs and a few average songs, I love United States though.
    i've been waiting for this album since i heard that the pumpkins were reuniting. if zeitgeist isnt as good as everyone says then maybe james iha and d'arcy were more important to the band than most ppl thought. i personally would rather hav iha back because he contributed more to the band than d'arcy who was just an average bassist at best.
    i havent gotten the album, but that "Tarantula" song was pretty good i thought....
    man ive been a pumpkin fan forever, i heard the new album and am dissapointed. but i do appreciate the fact they are treding new water, where as when i listen to bands like tool i just get the same old stuff every cd (which i absolutely dispise in an artist). Id rather a band have a crap st. anger cd than hearing a mildly different master of puppets again. I dislike this new pumpkin album, but i do appreciate where they are going. and im glad they are moving in a different direction.
    I love the new album. I guess I'm just one of those "staunch devotees who adore every note he plays" lol
    i'm a huge fan of them when the kicked ass in the 90's but this cd i have mixed feelings about. i watched the tarantula video on the internet and i was like what the hell is this. then i heard they were gonna be on letterman and i watched the live performance of tarantula and i was like holy ****. it was an awesome song when done live. billy was awesome with the solo.
    I wanted to like this albumn but I just couldn't. Tarantula is the only good song.
    Shredder Guitar
    ive only heard tarantula on the radio, its pretty decent. theyll never live up to what they used to be, but who cares? a band's gotta do something different once in awhile.
    Errr, am I the only one who thinks the prodution sucks a lot and the hole album sounds like crap?