Pumpkins’ Luscious Noise Coats Familiar Ideas
Painfully pretentious title notwithstanding, the Pumpkins’ fifth album is more straightforward than 1998’s “Adore,” blending the doomy crunch of the band’s early successes with the sonic curlicues of 1995’s “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.” Although the collection has more oomph, thanks largely to drummer Jimmy Chamberlin’s return, it eventually sounds samey and the ideas rehashed.
These 15 tracks constitute another journey to the center of Billy Corgan’s inner life, pursuing themes of trespass, redemption and whatever. Some threaten to numb the listener’s mind (e.g., the nearly 10-minute “Glass and the Ghost Children”), but the alt-rock icon and co-producer Flood (the team behind the multi-platinum “Mellon Collie”) use Chamberlin’s relentless beats to propel a gorgeous din of buzzing guitars, swooshing keyboards and distorted vocals, making such songs as “The Imploding Voice” and “Stand Inside Your Love” feel anthem-like rather than self-obsessed.
If the Pumpkins aren’t exactly reinvented here, “MACHINA” feels more assured than “Adore.” The band also continues to refine its approach to pop while tweaking expectations, fitting some uncharacteristically upbeat numbers alongside all the sinuous misery.
In fact, if not for Corgan’s patented sing-sneer, the inner-demon exorcism “With Every Light” might have sounded positively Beach Boys-esque.