Smashing Pumpkins “Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1”: Acceptable, at Best

Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins in concert. Photo by Larry Marano/REX/Shutterstock (5669046k)

The Smashing Pumpkin’s Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 is acceptable, at best.

As a 90’s born Smashing Pumpkins, I was a little disappointed by the album intro. It is miles apart from the fantastic opener to 95’s Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness and sounds annoyingly similar to Guns ‘N’ Roses after they got a bit rubbish. It’s not just Billie Corgan’s distinctive whine which likens him to Axl Rose, the piano track is cheesy and it’s too poppy to old school grunge but too dated to be modern pop.

Fortunately, the album did look up after the tragic opener. “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)” sounds a little more like the Smashing Pumpkins we are used to, only more current. The band have retained some of the signature components from the ’90s but have not been afraid to adapt to a new generation and audience. The electric guitar riffs are bold and catchy and there are still unexpected string parts which do seem to add something.

“Travels” is similar to the previous track. This section of the album sounds very ‘festival-y’ with its positive feel and slow and promising build-ups followed by glossy climaxes. I can easily picture myself standing in a field and loving the album but new audiences who are unfamiliar with the band might be surprised to learn of their legendary status. It’s just not the same.

My favorite track on the album is “Solara,” but I might be biased because this is the rockiest track. The heavy guitar and Corgan’s vocals are far more fitting with their old catalog and to me, this is Smashing Pumpkins at their best. Unfortunately, they revert back to their weaker, new style straight after and ‘Alienation’ again sounds like the cringy “Live and Let Die” era of Guns ‘N’ Roses.

The album’s finale “Seek and You Shall Destroy” is a cheeky reference to Iggy Pop but they have only confirmed that Iggy’s era of pop is long dead. The track is grungey but in its attempt to be fresh and current, it loses something.

Overall, Shiny And Oh So Bright, Vol 1 is an acceptable album but coming from a legendary band like Smashing Pumpkins, it is wildly disappointing. There’s nothing particularly memorable about the record and its unlikely to please old fans or win over any new ones. In fact, the best depiction of the album is the facepalm the angel is doing on the album cover.