Billy Corgan has never been one to shy away from epic statements. Some of the most revered songs of the Smashing Pumpkins catalog were showcased in sprawling double-album-length productions, and even more concise releases wore Corgan's specific brand of grandiose arrangements and deep, unfiltered emotionality. Cyr, the 11th studio album to bear the Smashing Pumpkins name, is another example of Corgan's knack for creating massive albums, only this time translating layered guitar rock into dark, moody synth pop.
There were a lot of reasons to be worried about the new Smashing Pumpkins record. Firstly, it's the second instalment in the 'Shiny And Oh So Bright' series, which the 'newly-reformed' band kicked off with 2018's patchy-as-hell 'No Past. No Future. No Sun.'. Secondly, it's a double album, and there ….
Nearly 30 years since the release of their first album Gish, The Smashing Pumpkins are on the crest of a second wave. When Shiny And Oh So Bright was released in 2018, it marked the first long player made by three of the band's four founding members since their unexpected reunion. Now singer Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberin have completed the sequel, Cyr, and look set to follow up one of the peaks of their output, 1995's Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.
For a band like the Smashing Pumpkins, releasing an album with a twenty-strong track listing feels more like business as usual than something out of the ordinary; what was arguably more shocking was previous effort 'Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol 1…''s comparatively shorter run time. But while the quartet ran things more concisely back in 2018, the album's follow-up - their first double album since 1995's 'Mellon Collie'… - more than makes up for lost time. In fact, 'Cyr' is a sprawling, meandering beast that's all too easy to get lost within.
At the peak of his artistic powers, Billy Corgan couldn't bear the thought of being less popular than Pearl Jam, less revered than Kurt Cobain, and less cute than James Iha. In the mid-'90s, he saw himself as a force of divine talent, and his sociopathic competitiveness, tyrannical perfectionism, and endless personal grievances were unseen in Chicago outside of the Bulls locker room. The most generous interpretation of his current irrelevance is that Corgan has come to accept it.
The shadow of New Order has always loomed large over the Pumpkins, and perhaps with the addition of Peter Hook's son Jack Bates as touring bassist inspired or felt it gave them licence to finally dive deep into a similar dark fusion of pop and electronica. It's just that CYR doesn't have any of the charm or truly impressive songs as created by Bates' father's band, it's just strangely sterile, coldly alien and feels lost instead. Adore did a much better job of balancing electronica with a sense of humanity.
For myriad reasons, it's best to approach each post-millennium Smashing Pumpkins album with as little backstory as possible. With that being said: after reuniting the "classic" lineup of his iconic band (which just meant rehiring Jimmy Chamberlin after a two-album absence and bringing back James Iha), Billy Corgan has recorded this double album — it's similar in scope to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, comes off as a spiritual sequel to Adore, and also counts as the second release in a series under the clumsy qualifier of Shiny and Oh So Bright. What is important to know about Cyr, however, is how large of a swing Corgan takes here; its ambition is virtually the album's only redeeming quality.
[…] i don't understand what they mean and i could really give a fuck
The Smashing Pumpkins have released a new album. Entitled Cyr (pronounced 'seer' but not written that way for reasons), it represents an audacious departure from the long-standing rock giants into cutting edge synthscapes and dance beats, covering a near-unprecedented one hour thirteen minutes while engaging intrepidly with occult imagery thatoh my goodness who cares. It would be unfair to call Cyr an uninspired album, but the Smashing Pumpkins' appropriations of vanilla synth-rock are neither individually interesting nor a good fit for the band's palette.
God, the saying goes, loves a trier. Which is lucky, because Billy Corgan, as many of his fans and critics alike will tell you, has been trying for years. Trying ideas, trying styles and, often, trying patience. His tenacity gets on people's wick, sure, but it's also something he doesn't get enough credit for.