Zeitgeist Review

artist: The Smashing Pumpkins date: 06/18/2008 category: compact discs
The Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist
Release Date: Jul 10, 2007
Label: Reprise Records
Genres: Rock, Alternative
Number Of Tracks: 12
Although the Pumpkins have their moments on Zeitgeist, they still cannot yet reclaim their rock god status of the '90s.
 Sound: 7.2
 Lyrics: 6.2
 Overall Impression: 7
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reviews (5) 97 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.3
Zeitgeist Reviewed by: UG Team, on july 10, 2007
5 of 8 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 7

Lyrics: 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. // 8

Overall Impression: 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. // 7

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overall: 7.7
Zeitgeist Reviewed by: ard1984, on july 13, 2007
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: I didn't use the guidelines that UG said to use when reviewing CD's. Sorry. Zeitgeist is a German term meaning "spirit of the age." Being the first true Pumpkins' record since 2000's Machina: The Machines of God, the title fits well. The music scene has changed considerably since Corgan decided to throw in the towel, not to mention the country and the world. The first Pumpkin's album in a post-9/11 world, it needed to be loud, fast and heavy. And it is. Basically a metal album with Pumpkins production and songwriting, it can hardly be called a "return" to their original sound. This is new territory for them. (Well, for Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who are the only two listed in the liner notes as performing on the CD.) A few songs do invoke pre-Adore era Pumpkins, however. Mellon Collie's heavier moments like "Bodies" or "X.Y.U." would feel right at home beside the churning "7 Shades Of Black" or the album's first single, "Tarantula." // 8

Lyrics: The gentler moments of the record may be the standouts, however. From the snappy, lively beats of "That's the Way (My Love Is)" to the unashamed pop of "Bring the Light," the Pumpkins pack in the hooks on nearly every song. The album has a very deliberate, flowing momentum that seems to get more optimistic as it goes on. "United States," the album's epic 10 minute centerpiece, seems to be the turning pointthe guitars hammer out tuned-down power chords while Corgan sings "Let me be something good. Let me prove something real like I should," and "I don't have to run scared no more." // 7

Overall Impression: The Pumpkin already drew criticism from some of the early reviewers, such as Stephen Erlewine, saying the album's political and social overtone's detract from the appeal of the music, and the excessive amounts of guitar overdubs "saps Zeitgeist from any impact it may have." While the cover art may give the impression of impending doom for the United States and the world, this record is about Billy Corgan. This is Corgan's attempt at regaining his former spotlight, and he tells the listener that straight from the beginning. In the opening track "Doomsday Clock," the drums and guitar bang like thunder, while Corgan broods over "There's wages on this fear, Oh so clear, Depends on what you'll pay to hear," and "Please don't stop it's lonely at the top. These lonely days when will they ever stop?" As for the overdubs, they have basically been a part of the Pumpkin's signature sound since the opening riff of "Cherub Rock" on Siamese Dream. Layers upon layers upon layers of guitar. That was/is the Smashing Pumpkins. // 8

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overall: 4.3
Zeitgeist Reviewed by: unregistered, on july 12, 2007
0 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 5

Lyrics: 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. // 2

Overall Impression: 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. // 6

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overall: 8
Zeitgeist Reviewed by: interstate8, on december 20, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Smashing Pumpkins' latest release, Zeitgeist, has an overall great sound. The thick guitar riffs mixed with ringing vocals and innovative drum beats make for an aweasome listen. I bought the extended version and I have to say the only song I don't really like is Pomp and Circumstances. I think that this album is headed in a different direction, but the sound lives on. The moderate use of strings like violin mix well with Billy Corgan's vocals. There are some great guitar licks on Tarantula. The delay effect and guitar on the intro of Stellar is perfectly harmonic. The use of vibrato is great. The sound is just phenomenal. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics in Zeitgeist are very down to Earth. I connected with a lot of the songs. Smashing Pumpkins did a great job mixing the lyrics with the music. I found Starz to have very enlightening lyeics.Also the battle-like lyrics of (Come On)Let's Go! are inspiring to say the least. Billy Corgan has one of the best voices in today's era of rock. His arsenal of tone is widespread and is used well. // 8

Overall Impression: I stongly support this album. I think that it is righteous in sound and lyrics. When I tried to find a comparable album I really struggled. The best job I could do was to compare Jimmy Chamberlin's progressive drum beats to that of Rush and The Police. I love how the songs are sweet and sour. They'll play a heavy guitar riff, and then slow it down and then repeat. I do not like the soft sound of Pomp and Circumstance, but other than that minor flaw this album is incredible. If it were stolen I'd rush back to the store and buy another copy along with sone other Smashing Pumpkins album. I highly reccomend this album for both longtime fans and new fans. // 8

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overall: 6.7
Zeitgeist Reviewed by: unregistered, on june 18, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album is sort of the re-introduction to the smashing pumpkins. I think they probably took aspects of all their albums from the past and turned them into songs. For example, when I heard 7 Shades of Black the first thing that cme to mind was Siamese Dream or Tarantula sounds like Zero, Bullet With Butterfly Wings, and X.Y.U. mashed together and I enjoyed both those songs. Unfortunatly, that also means that they included the songs For God and Country and Pomp and Circumstance which sounded very electronic, like Adore, and I didn't enjoy those songs. I think on some songs they strayed too far from their strengths. Overall their hardest songs like Doomsday Clock, 7 Shades of Black, Tarantula, and United States were pretty good. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics to this album weren't that great. They tried some political songs and they didn't work out that well. The only time, in my opinion, this worked out was United States which is one of my favorite songs. But when they used there normal topics they songs came out very well. // 6

Overall Impression: This album takes bits and pieces out of previous Pumpkins albums in order to introduce someone who might not of heard of them before. I really liked Tarantula, United States, and That's The Way (My Love Is). I like their heavy songs but hate the eletronic songs. If lost/stolen I would buy Mellon Collie cause it's the best album ever! // 6

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