While the last few years of The Smashing Pumpkin's output have been uneven, to say the least, there was always at least one or two tracks, even on recent releases, that kind of remind you how great they once were.
But, after listening to the first part of ATUM today, I have to say Billy Corgan has officially lost his mind.
I was listening to the album (well, one third of it; it's three acts of this!), and I was indeed finding it painfully generic, but when that track came ("Hooray!") I just stopped, and thought "what the fuck is this shit?!?!?". Really, they fully lost me with this one. I give up on them. The guy gets most of the band back together, has one of the best drummers around, on a formation that has a total of 3 guitar players, and releases music featuring drum machines, and the most painfully generic synth sounds around.
Since Iha rejoined, Billy (yes, just Billy, because it's clear the others have zero input; he even became lead producer, when it's clear he is painfully bad at it, especially when it comes to mixing) released:
-Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. (painfully mediocre, flat sounding stuff, with terrible mixing; at least, it gave us two tracks I found decent, "Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)", and "With Sympathy"; Iha is nowhere to be found, and Chamberlin is replaced with drum machines for much of the material, or sounds painfully flat and low on the audio mix)
-Cyr (yes, it totally makes sense to make a double synth pop album, when you have 3 fricking guitar players; a generic mess, boring and painful to endure, but among the pile of tracks, there's a decent 5-6 track EP in there; if only someone would have told him "you don't have to release everything you record"...)
And now this.
It's already a very bad sign when an artist starts talking about an upcoming album being a sequel to an existing, well liked album, it's a clear sign of creative irrelevance, so they start clinging to "x" release that is popular. This, a sequel to Mellon Collie, and Machina? Yeah, I don't buy it. Machina indeed supposedly had some sort of futurist narrative behind it, but you won't convince me that Mellon Collie was tied to Machina, let alone the new one.
The second bad sign was Corgan once again showing as a producer. He can't mix shit. He just places his voice high, on top of everything else, and it just sounds awful.
It's sad to see talented musicians like Iha and Chamberlin, one of my personal all-time favourite drummers, associated to this crap.
No one tells Corgan "no", or "maybe this isn't very good". They appear resigned to get those royalties and tour cheques, and let Billy do whatever he wants.
This track, "Hooray!", was really the last drop for me.
The excitement for new material was already low, but this just made me go "fuck off".
JCB I had only listened to that one track and given how i feel about a lot of his stuff i had hoped it was just one blip the rest was going to be better but apparently not. To be brutally honest, i haven't really enjoyed anything Coogan has done for a long, long while and years ago i got so fed up with him, his ego and creative releases i just really didn't gel with that i haven't had any interest in him or his projects for a long time. I didn't know they'd got back together again for example.
I used to think okay i'll give this a go and see if he's got the spark back but nope and back in the "I don't care" box he went. Seems nothing has changed yet.
Like Stevey and you, i think the first three albums are great but i fell off him fast after that.
Still, at least we have those three albums and they are definitely part of the background sound of an era of my life.
RIP Irene Cara. FAME and Flashdance and some of the things she did afterwards were huge when i was a kid and a big part of my sister taking ballet and dance lessons as she grew up. I was just introducing Irene Cara and FAME to a bunch of young 'uns ( people in their 20s most likely lol ) earlier this week.