The Smashing Pumpkins Monuments to an Elegy
Like 2012’s Oceania, new Smashing Pumpkins album Monuments to an Elegy is being billed as an “album within an album,” part of Pumpkins mastermind Billy Corgan’s ongoing Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project. In practice, that doesn’t mean much, since Monuments stands completely on its own, and it’s more polished and compact than both Oceania and the miscellaneous Teargarden EPs that Corgan released before that.
While those projects were steeped in fuzzy psychedelia, Monuments is bright and concise, with nine songs totaling just over half an hour. The guitar work (from Corgan and Jeff Schroeder, the band’s only other official member) is crisp, and the synths on songs like “Run2Me” and “Dorian” sound cooler and more modern than the spaced-out songs on the last couple of Pumpkins releases. Although there’s nothing as catchy as the Pumpkins’ best past work, “Run2Me” is a radio-friendly ballad with a driving beat (courtesy of Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee, who does solid work on the album) that recalls “1979,” and “Monuments” and “Anti-Hero” both layer in some of the heavier guitars Pumpkins fans may have been missing. Corgan is unlikely to produce any new alt-rock classics, but Monuments is a perfectly respectable addition to his messy, sprawling oeuvre.