I think one of the most important announcements in the music industry this year came just a few weeks ago when Billy Corgan announced his plans to revive one of the most influential bands of the 90’s… THE SMASHING PUMPKINS. This coming in the wake of his first solo release “The Future Embrace” which is, more or less, an intimate look at Corgan himself and his own desires to move forward in life, love and his music.
Let me start by saying this is not a “typical” Corgan release in and of the music itself. It is very techno and/or minimalistic oriented. There is very little guitar work, real percussion, or bass which PUMPKINS fans are use to. This album primarily focuses on the voice and creativity of Corgan himself. Lyrically, this CD has that distinctive Billy Corgan feel to it and given, there are a few tracks where those old PUMPKINS influences are apparent but, as a whole, it lacks that magic he once had with the band.
The first two songs on the CD, “All Things Change” and “Mina Loy (M.O.H.),” are among the better tracks. They are good, solid arrangements and tell their stories in a way only Billy Corgan can and remind me of some of the more “techno” influenced PUMPKINS tracks from either “Adore” or “Machina:The Machines of God”… only without the support of James Iha’s incredible guitar work. “The Cameraeye” keeps the pace with one of the more haunting chorus’ on the CD.
Now is when “The Future Embrace” starts to take a slight turn for the worse. The next song, “To Love Somebody,” can best be described as a failed cover attempt at THE BEE GEES original. The song really brings the album to a screeching halt with its droning chorus which can only be compared to a dirge in this composition.
"Future” has a hard time bouncing back after that. “A100” is just total techno which you can imagine being cranked in one of those underground discos you’ve seen in vampire movies like “Blade II.” “DIA” could have been a redeeming track as it has some very strong lyrics and an almost gothic vibe to it but the backing keyboards are just too overbearing to allow you to truly appreciate the song. This is followed up by yet another death march, “Now (and Then).”
Finally a break in the clouds as the album changes tempo a bit with “I’m Ready” followed closely by the only true triumph “Walking Shade.” Now THIS is Billy Corgan at his best and has the most PUMPKINS-ish feel over any other song on the CD. It’s strong, pounding rhythm along with Corgan’s powerful vocals really launch “The Future Embrace” to a whole other level which I wish he could have consistently maintained… but it doesn’t. The final three tracks, “Sorrows (In Blue),” “Pretty Pretty Star” and “Strayz”, while still maintaining that signature writing style Corgan is famous for, just go back to those same, droning melodies which engulfed a majority of the release.
I am rather torn on this one as I just don’t get what Corgan was going for… but then again, maybe that’s the way he wanted it. When “The Future Embrace” is good, it’s almost brilliant in its composure. However, when it falls short, it hurdles to the earth like a dead seagull. As a long time SMASHING PUMPKINS fan, I’d have to say that tracks like “Walking Shade,” “Mina Loy (M.O.H.)” and “All Things Change” make this a valuable addition to your collection but you’ll find yourself skipping around more often than not.
- Billy Corgan - vocals / sounds
- Bon Harris - sounds
- Brian Liesegang - additional noises
- Matt Walker - additional noises
- Robert Smith - guitars / vocals (To Love Somebody)
- Jimmy Chamberlin - drums (DIA)
- Emilie Autumn - vocals / violin (DIA)
- All Things Change
- Mina Loy (M.O.H.)
- The Cameraeye
- To Love Somebody
- Now (and Then)
- I'm Ready
- Walking Shade
- Sorrows (In Blue)
- Pretty Pretty Star