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Smashing Pumpkins Morph Sound With New Singles CYR and The Colour Of Your Love

Billy Corgan’s ability to write catchy and incredibly well composed songs, 30 years on at this point, hasn’t waned.

It’s not unusual for Billy Corgan to experiment with the Smashing Pumpkins’ sound. Up through the glorious double album Melon Collie and The Infinite Sadness there was a tried and true Pumpkins’ sound. Adore broke the mold though. The dark and heavy “death rock” sound became augmented by strings, piano, and moody electronic atmospheres. These elements kept the spirit, if not the particular guitar sound, of Corgan’s “grunge in furs” approach intact. Machina brought back the guitars, but changed their sound. The post original line up albums also kept the guitars front and center, acknowledging the heaviness, but with varyingly different tones. With the release of the singles “CYR” and “The Colour of Your Love,”  Corgan appears to be morphing the Smashing Pumpkins’ sound once again. This time into a vastly new sonic territory: a synth centric one. It’s catchy, but long term fans of Corgan’s highly identifiable, and unique, wall of guitar sound might be put off at first. Whatever the changes though, Corgan’s ability to write catchy and incredibly well composed songs, 30 years on at this point, hasn’t waned.

Fresh off an excursion into finding the mythic in the mundane on his late 2019 solo release, Cotillions, Corgan returns to crank up the mythic Pumpkins’ sound albeit with a new focus. Much ado has been made about the synths in “CYR,” but the main musical refrain/riff sounds suspiciously like a synth bathed guitar line as opposed to a straightforward keyboard dalliance. After multiple listens, the musical direction doesn’t feel as much of a departure as it at first sounds to be. There is no mistaking the absence of the Pumpkin guitar smash though. Personally, I was hoping for a bit more of a GISH sound, inspired by the return of Corgan’s once missing GISH era guitar. The album isn’t out yet though and anything can happen where the Pumpkins’ sound is concerned. There is something to be said for not repeating oneself. Take Marilyn Manson’s new musical direction for instance. Much like Marilyn Manson’s recent single release “WE ARE CHAOS,” “CYR” is also a meditation on the current state of affairs, at least here in The States, as much as both songs are a departure from their artists’ original sound. Corgan is more hopeful though, singing about being “on the verge/of sacred dawning” and urging us to “stare down our masters” instead of being incurable as Manson asserts.

“The Colour of Your Love” has a more classic Pumpkins feel to it, even though it also remains heavily dependent upon synths to comprise its signature sound. Despite the synths, it feels more akin to something that would have fit on Adore. Most interestingly, “The Colour of Your Love” relies most urgently upon its bassline. Bass guitar has always been a solid bedrock of many a Pumpkin song, but here it is in the foreground, overshadowing both the lead guitar as well as the synths. The superior of the two singles, “The Colour of Your Love” better captures the both grand and intimate Pumpkins’ sound that makes them so endearing and powerful. 

Whatever the dominant sound on the as-yet-unnamed forthcoming Smashing Pumpkins album is, it is sure to be something to behold. This decades-long Pumpkin fan hopes that there’s just a bit more guitar though. 

Carolina's based writer/journalist Andy Frisk love music, and writing, and when he gets to intermingle the two he feels most alive. Covering concerts and albums by both local and national acts, Andy strives to make the world a better place and prove Gen X really can still save the world.

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