Smashing Pumpkins Monuments to an Elegy Album Review
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On December 9th, 2014 The Smashing Pumpkins released their 9th studio album entitledMonuments to an Elegy. This album still embodies SPs signature sound but incorporates modern alternative elements too. In classic Pumpkins style, Billy recruited some new musicians for this record. Their drummer Mike Bryne left, and they picked up Motley Crue's Tommy Lee. Their bassist Nicole Fiorentino didn't record on this one, so Billy filled in for her. In addition to these two, their long time guitarist Jeff Schroder plays rhythm . Lets dive right in! Monuments to an Elegy is a continuation of the ongoing Teagarden by Kaleidoscope album cycle. Basically, Billy decided that his next three full length releases will be albums withinTeargarden. Off first glance, Monuments looks more like a glorified EP with 9 tracks and a length of 32 minutes. I'll admit I was skeptical when I saw this. After my first listen, I had negative reaction. I said out loud three or four times "What...Are you kidding me?" This was NOTHING like the Pumpkins had ever done! But just as always, I remembered that one doesn't fall in love with their albums right away. It take three or four listens until you really begin to settle in to the sound and overall concept. So I played it again. And took notes this time on what I did and did not like about it. I found the positives out weighed the negatives.The album begins with a quiet single handed piano notes, then explodes into a full ensemble of layered guitars and hard hitting drums. By my standards, the first song "Tiberius" is the best on the album. It sounded like it came right off their 2008 release . It embodies their classic sound all around which is impressive considering only one of the original four members is still in the band. It even has a heavy instrumental guitar break that I absolutely loved.I thought another good track was "Being Beige". This track had such an uplifting and inspiration feel to it. Pairing this with an addictively catchy chorus, makes it a hit. I wasn't surprised when I found out that they released this one as a single.It's worth mentioning that with the edition of Tommy Lee, the drums have a regained sense of dominance. I used to think that they had such a dynamic presence in the mix. But since the departure of Jimmy Chamberlin in 2009, they lost their luster. Tommy Lee does a nice job of bringing this back with his unique and powerful style.There were two songs that I could not get into. "Anise!" sounds forced and is over saturated with psychedelic synth lines. The chorus is weak and thin compared to others on the album. It almost sounds unfinished to me. "Anti-Hero" is one of the most generic sounding rock songs I've ever heard. It's like they took GarageBand loops for the guitar and drum tracks. The reason I like the Pumpkins is because they are not afraid to stray away from mainstream rock. But, this song was a let down because it sounded like the typical 4 chord rock you hear everyday on the radio.Overall Monuments to an Elegy is a quick, powerful listen that will requires a couple plays to enjoy. There's no denying the new, synth-fueled sound you will hear in their newest release. The question is...are you ready to embrace it?