Smashing Pumpkins Shiny and Oh So Bright. Vol. 1 Album Review

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This is the bands 10th studio album and the first to feature Jimmy Chamberlain since 2007 “Zeitgeist” and the first to feature James Iha since 2000 “Machina/The Machines of Gods”. Jeff Schroeder joins them on guitar.

Original bassist, D’arcy Wretzky, is not on the album and will not be a part of the upcoming tour. Both sides seem to have a different story on how this decision came about, so I won’t comment on that any further, but it would have been cool to have seen the original lineup together again.

Produced by - Rick Rubin (first time with them since “Adore” in 1998)

Recorded/Mixed by - Dana Nielsen

Originally this should have been 2, 4 track EPs but they took the decision to make it an LP and the first in the “Shiny and oh so bright” series of albums 

Knights of Malta

We get off to a fantastic start and the songs starts out with the chorus. A very Beatles thing to do.

"Woah-woah-woah-woah-woah, woah, We're gonna make this happen, Woah-woah-woah-woah-woah, woah, I'm gonna fly forever, Woah-woah-woah-woah-woah, woah, We're gonna ride that rainbow, Woah-woah-woah-woah-woah, woah"

Hints of early  Oasis in terms of the drum fills, string section and backward guitar that appears throughout (on second thoughts that could be the Beatles I’m thinking of) and “Gimme Shelter" era Stones, with the female backing vocals.

There is a real feel of optimism and hope in this song

"A serpent for your fist, And a scarab for your mouth, The symptoms say persist, So resist, But a cure is not in doubt"

Really enjoyed the bass and I loved that chorus

By far the stand out track on the album for me. Glorious start.


Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)

This one goes back into much more traditional Pumpkins territory and kind of has a similar vibe to "1979"

Apparently, “Silvery Sometimes/Ghosts” is named in tribute to Billy’s good friend Robert Smith from The cure. Quite why though I have no idea.

I’m not going to pretend I truly understood the lyrics in the one but they are filled with tragic irony and juxtaposition. 

"Rule like a tyrant, Make like a valentine, Tear like a siren, Sulk like a sunken mine"

There is also a line that goes “Dive like a Pelican” which is a nod to "The Marked", the first real band Billy was in.

There is also a passage I liked that had a tragic image but ends with a positive outlook.

"Stumbling before you speak, Stunning and stunning with cannons to lead, And tigers tight, You scan the fields, someone dies tonight, It’s tragic, but at least it’s not you"

An enjoyable enough song but I felt a bit let down after such a fantastic start to the album

Travels

This was another more old school sounding Pumpkins tune

I have always been quite hit and miss with Billy’s vocals. They seem to fit the song perfectly or I find them quite grating. 

“It’s where I belong, it's where I belong, it's where I belong, it's where I belong”

Another one that was a decent enough tune but didn’t really grab me either. Not much else to say on this one


Solara

This one I loved the first time I heard it. Starts out with a slow and heavy down picked riff and has a similar vibe to “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”

Apparently this one was originally written back in 2014 and Billy said;

"Jeff [Schroeder] and I were the only people in the band at that time and we just couldn’t find the magic. We always thought the song was strong [...] so when we came in, in this situation, the minute we put it in Jimmy Chamberlin's hands, it’s like, 'Oh, there’s the magic.' It got a lot easier after that."

That makes a lot of sense as Jimmy Chamberlain steals the show on this track. He sounds awesome and adds so much energy to the song.

Again I am not going to pretend I understand the lyrics but I get a feeling of transcendence (possibly)

"High and dry, I'm ash made time, With sun, too bright, I am nothing but a body in my mind"

Trippy video for this one as well


Alienation

Starts out with a swelling synth before piano joins in and goes into something that has a hint of “Tonight, Tonight”

I think this one is about alienation

“Alienation, Alienation, Free the morning, Free revelation, Alienation, Alienation, Mourn the movement, fear penetration, Alienation, of thee I sing"

I’ve read a few reviews that are quite scathing of this song but I actually liked this one a lot


Marchin’ On

Much heavier this song. Has that old school Pumpkins heaviness and I really enjoyed the bridge section that has one of the heaviest riffs on the album.

Another one with lyrics that I am not even going to begin to try and decipher

"She stabs the empty clock, She haunts them where they're not, She screams the ailing arcs, the spirals follow sharp, She stabs there where they're not, 'Cause body slays soul”

Really cool tune, but the mix sounded a little muddy at points and was a little too short coming in at less than 3 minutes.


With Sympathy

Really beautiful, ringing, clean and bright acoustic guitars. Had a touch of Pixies to the sound I thought. Enjoyable enough ballad type song and I really enjoyed the bass (which I think Billy plays on this album) and I loved the chorus.

“Its with sympathy, that I gift you to me”

Short and sweet


Seek and You Shall Destroy

Another heavier riff on this for the final song on the album. 

“Seek and you shall destroy me, to faces form a victors sonnet, to faces our night comes to an early close, in miniature of stark and sweet repose”

Not much to say about this one really. Another shoer song that gets straight to the point and is over in less than 3 minutes.

7/10

I felt instinctively that I should give this.a lower score but there aren’t any bad songs on the album if I am honest.I think what gets me about this album is that despite only 8 songs and only just over 30 minutes of music it feels like there is a lot of filler. No bad songs, just not great. The 2 E.P.s would have made sense as I think there are strong leading songs but the others are kind of filler.