Smashing Pumpkins: Monuments To An Elegy

Billy Corgan wants you to pretend he still has a band called The Smashing Pumpkins.

- There’s a question David Wong once posed in a more complicated form, but to put it simply; you own an axe, one day the head of that axe breaks, so you have it replaced, later the handle breaks and so you replace that. The question is, in the end are you still holding the same axe?

It's an essentially unanswerable, existential question that Billy Corgan seems unwilling to debate and it also seems to indicate that he (or we) hold more faith in the Pumpkins’ brand than in Corgan himself. The new album doesn't necessarily trade on nostalgia but releasing it under the Smashing Pumpkins’ name, after all but one member has left does seem like someone’s desperately clinging to the past, and calling the album Monuments To An Elegy is tantamount to ringing your own death knell.

Bringing Tommy Lee on board as drummer doesn’t lend any credibility either, just a sort of serviceable yet pointless fanservice. Possibly bringing back Chamberlin, any of the original crew, or even the drum machine Iha and Corgan began with would have served the album better.

This is how it boils down: Elegy isn’t a bad album but it isn’t a good one either. If Corgan had let it drop under his own name, or any other, it could have stood alone without any of the connotations the current moniker put a seriously unwanted spotlight on. As it is, you have an album full of synth-lite, pseudo-rock riddled with Corgan’s desultory whine and painfully self-referential lyricism. During the not title track Monuments, Corgan actually sings “It’s all gone bad, what do you want me to say?” Nothing Billy, nothing at all.

Is Monument To An Elegy a case of the noble captain going down on his ship, or is it the whore going down on the captain? Either way, the ship is sinking and the rats have fled but the band plays on.

- Nic Addenbrooke.

Album Details

Album Title: Monuments To An Elegy
Artist: Smashing Pumpkins
Record Label: (BMG / Sony)