Zero EP Review
by Greg Kot
Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org for the aritcles
No this isn’t a new Smashing Pumpkins album, it’s an EP featuring ‘Zero’ from the sprawling Mellon Collie album, plus six previously unreleased tracks.
First of all Zero is good by anybody else’s standards, but it’s note what we’ve come to expect from Chicago’s finest. The Pumpkins are a magnificent group who pen gorgeous, grandiose and affecting songs. And as anybody who has heard the B side tracks which make up the ‘Pisces Iscariot’ will only be to aware that Billy Corgan simply doesn’t write bad songs. There are very few bands which can compete with the Pumpkins majestic power- but that said, this collection of tunes does little to expand on the bands reputation...
You should know ‘Zero’ already. It’s the song featuring Corgan’s despairing exclamation ‘Emptiness is loneliness and loneliness is cleanliness and cleanliness is godliness and God is empty just like me,’ huge riffs and driving, tumbling rhythms. ‘God’ is dark and dragging, the now departed Jimmy Chamberlin’s hypnotic drumming holding back the verses before a trademark Pumpkins chorus explodes with urgency and passion, the guitars spluttering angrily around a repeated snarl of ‘God knows I’m hopeless.’ ‘Mouth of Babes’ is ushered in next courtesy of a ragged and raging ‘Cherub Rock’ style riff, everything spiralling upwards, but it’s the Pumpkins-by-numbers, the sort of tune Corgan can knock out in his sleep. Guitarist James Iha gets a rare co writing credit on ‘Tribute to Johnny’, a dirty riff led instrumental which is so imbued with 70’s stoner ambience that you can’t be sure whether the quartet’s often over looked sense of humor is surfacing to take the piss. It’s the sort of Pumpkins jam that bands mess about with in rehearsal, the solo washing relentlessly over a rolling guitar motif- and even Jimmy Chamberlin the most underrated drummer in rock regardless of his personal troubles, gets to grab the spotlight with a short drum break. Again, it’s a diverting and mildly engaging tune, but hardly essential Pumpkins. The same could be said of ‘Marquis in Spades’, which opens with Corgan muttering ‘Fucker’ and unravels into something searing and bitter,Iha’s fluid guitar lines melting around acerbic, angry lyrics.
‘Pennies’ is much better, a beautiful, uncluttered love song with chiming guitars and a sweet vocal, but the mood it creates is blown apart by the final ‘track’.‘Pasticho Medley’, 23 minutes of fractured riffs and feedback assembled from hitherto unrecorded Pumpkins outakes. No riff lasts longer than 30 seconds or resembles anything the like last one. Why the band thought anybody would like this, is beyond me.
In conclusion, ‘Zero’ is a so-so collection, with typical blinding Pumpkins brilliance interspersed with uncharacteristic throwaway moments. Billy’s heroes can do much better than this, and if you can’t be bothered to buy this, you’re not losing out on anything essential. As ever the choice is yours......
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