I discovered Smashing Pumpkins when I was around sixteen in a dusty Chicago record shop. Ever since I was in junior high, I had fallen for boys who happened to be scrappy musicians that each had a real boner for all things ‘vintage’. Vintage guitars, vintage boots, and especially vintage music. So, deciding to give this total 90s band a try, I reached for the bright orange Siamese Dream album with the two young girls in butterfly wings on the cover.
That’s them now at age 25! How cute?^
I bought the album and gave it a spin on my used up karaoke machine. The day I listened to my first Smashing Pumpkins album was also the first day the leaves began to turn that autumn. As I listened to Billy Corgan sing about Spaceboys and Mayonaise, I opened my bedroom window to the bright fall colors of orange, maroon, and amber. I closed my eyes and felt the crisp autumn breeze as D’arcy Wretzky’s strumming of the bass added a punkish excitement in the air that thrilled me.
Although I had originally bought the album to impress a classmate crush, it now had absolutely nothing to do with him or his boner for vintage. It was just me and the band members of Smashing Pumpkins.
It was as if we were all bonded, the Smashing Pumpkins and me, as though we were all in on some sort of secret that no one else in the world knew, but us.
Nearly seven years later, I still have pictures of the album cover torn out, sticking to the walls of my room. Every time a ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ song comes on it brings me back to being sixteen, the smell of autumn in the air, and the feel of excitement consuming my lungs.
I can even recall a time when “1979” began to play on the radio in the car, and I had my friends open the roof of the vehicle so I could stand outside of it and feel the breeze while they drove off. The song was blasting through the night as my friends laughed. We were imitating a scene from the book Perks Of Being A Wallflower, because that’s what you do when you’re sixteen and bored to death in the suburbs.
Now, about seven years later, I am listening to their new 2018 album in the same room where I first listened to the band. Only now I am Twenty-Two, and instead of trying to impress that scrappy musician from high school, I am hoping The ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ will be impressing me with their latest piece of art.
They don’t disappoint.
Whereas their 90’s music would remind me of autumn, their latest album puts you in a summer mood. It brings you to a place of warm colors and childhood that is almost naively optimistic.
Similar to the works of bands like MGMT and Vulfpeck which sometimes utilize nostalgia to bring up emotions for listeners, SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT does just that. With references to riding rainbows, wishing trees, valentines, and ghosts, it’s an album that brings you back to the days of jungle gyms and swing sets.
In a way, the album kind of reminds you of a bunch of 50-something-year-old men jumping into a ball pit of adolescent memories.
Siamese Dreams brings me back to being sixteen, while SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT makes me feel as though I am six. This mostly comes through with the lyrics, which sometimes sound as though they were written by a fourth grader. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It matches nicely with the youthful spirit of the album, leading to a carefree feeling within the listener.
I appreciate the joyful vibrations of SAOSB. It’s nice once and a while to have an album come out that soaks in innocence, making the listener feel pure and happy.
Do I think the album is as strong as their older stuff? Nah.
It’s still good, though. Perhaps it’ll grow on me.
None-the-less, the spirit is definitely still there. The feeling is still there. Maybe that is what matters the most.
What do you think about the new album? Does the band still hold up from the 90’s, or is it meant to stay in that decade?