THE SMASHING PUMPKINS - Pisces Iscariot (Hut/All formats)
NME - Fall 1994 - review by Dele Fadele
(Sent to us by Tim Robinson - email@example.com)
It takes a special kind of conceit to think your group's loyal fans would be remotely interested in a compilation of B-sides, studio outtakes and BBC session tracks. Naturally, Smashing Pumpkins major domo, Billy Corgan, is not lacking in conceit. A self-confessed dictator, his vision has always been one of global domination and he's been unstinting in his pursuit of that goal.
But there's another side to Corgan - a reflective, questioning, frustrated side that's full of neurosis and insecurities. This is the side that is shown on 'Pisces Iscariot', originally released in the US two years ago, which allows him to put naked feelings on the line, since the tracks aren't designed for hits radio, MTV or suchlike.
So you get an extra-sensitive version of 'Soothe' set to an acoustic backing, followed by a roaring 'Frail And Bedazzled', and, with a few exceptions, this is the pattern throughout: slow then fast. Strangely, for a band renowned for rock-outs, the slower the pace, the more effective the Pumpkins are. For sure, the country-blues of 'Whir' carries a disarmingly-pretty melody, while the melancholic 'Obscured' is poignantly graceful.
The main question to be asked, though, is if this is a recording of the Pumpkins basically running out of ideas? Some tracks are excuses for pointless solos, and the ten-minute 'Starla' is so overblown as to defy belief. Perhaps this stopgap release is to keep fans happy while they decide what to do next. Whatever the motives, the fact remains that 'Pisces Iscariot' is just a curious aside, not an earth-shattering event; and the ambitious side of Billy Corgan wouldn't like that.
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