Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Album Review: Smashing Pumpkins - Machina/The Machines of God

Smashing Pumpkins fifth album was released in 2000 at a time when the world had grown rather tired of Billy Corgan and co.  With drummer Jimmy Chamberlin back in the fold the sound is heavier than their previous album Adore, with the clattering riffs of opener The Everlasting Gaze setting the tone.  Like many of their albums it's long, fifteen tracks over 73 minutes.

It's something of a mixed bag, not a return to their heavy early nineties sound, nor a continuation of the poppy feel of Adore.  This album attempts to marry the two and doesn't quite pull it off.  The powerful, hard-riffing Heavy Metal Machine and The Imploding Voice come across as more overblown bluster than anything else, as if the band decided 'hey, we can still do heavy'.  Elsewhere Raindrops + Sunshowers would be far better if the track was allowed to just breathe, the busy production is a little too much.  Tracks like Stand Inside Your Love, Try, Try, Try, and I of the Mourning are reasonably memorable, though the latter's endless refrain of "radio, radio, radio plays my favourite song" grates after a while.

There is a lot here to get your head around.  The Sacred and Profane works as it feels like the band isn't trying too hard, it's one of the stronger melodies here, as is This Time, which has a lovely descending jangly guitar part.  On the other hand the overlong The Glass and Ghost Children does nobody any favours, meandering for nearly ten very long minutes.
But it's all just a little too much, and without any really great songs it's not quite a keeper.