Sound — 5
The Smashing Pumpkins have been by far my favorite band in my entire life. I'm shocked by this album. This band, in the 90s, recorded so many amazing songs (that were also amazingly produced) that it was difficult to decide if you enjoyed the albums or the b-sides better. Let me start by saying that the production on pretty much every song on this album is horrendous. It's not like Billy or the other two producers on the album don't have tons of experience. It's inexcusable. Every song could have been good, not great. All the levels are off in the recording. In some parts the vocals are way too loud, in others the drums are. The inspiring and creative trademark power-chord riffs are still present, but are nowhere near pushed to the front enough.
Lyrics — 2
The lyrics have shifted from Corgan's trademark introspective dark outlook as well as lovey-dovey to politically charged rants that almost don't make sense and seem extremely forced. It's as if Billy decided he was getting to old too whine and profess his undying love for someone so he had to do something different. I'm sorry Billy, you were amazing about writing about feelings. Leave the political stuff to the likes of System Of A Down and bands that know how to write that way. Billy's vocals have never been so weak. No wonderfully charged whines and no sweet soft whispers. It's pretty boring, just as the lyrics are.
Overall Impression — 6
This will be debated forever, but I truly believe the absence of D'arcy and James had a lot to do with the mediocre writing on this album. Every song sounds plain, but forced. All this said, it could still have been a good album anyway because Billy and Jimmy are extremely talented people, except for the fact that the vocals on the album may be the most disappointing thing I've ever heard. Corgan never had a great voice but there was something awe-inspiring about the way he whined and whimpered, and was somehow always amazing in key, despite the way he sang. On this album, he almost sounds monotone compared to the Billy of old. It's not a bad album. It's just extremely disappointing. And what happened to the things that made the pumpkins what they truly are. The great psychedelics and ballads. Songs like Rhinoceros and Thru the Eyes of Ruby or Disarm and, thirty-three, or 1979? I'm not saying it's good to try to recreate something you've already done, but stick to your guns. Be creative and progressive, but do it in a way you know how. You could listen to this and then turn on Machina (their worst outing) and be blown away by it.