Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol .1/ LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.
Aweighty 13 years since he declared he wanted his band, songs and dreams back, Billy Corgan’s wishes have finally been granted: The Smashing Pumpkins (as in, the actual Smashing Pumpkins, not the bastardised rehash Corgan whipped up in ’06) have reunited… Well, mostly. D’arcy Wretzky would still happily jam the headstock of her bass down Corgan’s throat, should the opportunity arise, but the sticky, jammy alt-rock origami that Corgan, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlain made ‘90s kids fall head over heels for has been re-folded to its former beauty.
The first chapter of their ShinyAndOhSoBright saga (one we’re hoping isn’t abandoned before completion like TeargardenByKaleidyscope was), NoPast.No
Future.NoSun. is a bright, booming and buoyant – if somewhat understated at times – masterclass in how to make a comeback. It feels nostalgic but never dated, the dustiness of the Pumpkins’ shed-set origins peeping through from behind a notably modern set of sounds. A playthrough barely scratches past the half-hour mark, but its brevity is what makes this such a striking first entry in what could be a landmark series – where recent efforts have far overstayed their welcome, LPX leaves us teetering on the edge of our seat for more.
And though they never truly go all-out with the loud and frenzied payoff moments their first three albums were bursting at the seams with, the quartet don’t shy away from their gain knobs. Cuts like “Marchin’ On” and “Solara” bubble and brew with a youthful fury, guitars pounding and powerful and decently furry. The more strained and softer moments of latter-day Pumpkins are favoured over those amp-punishing onslaughts of attack, but we’re thrown a good little stash of bones across the eight tracks on show.
To that end, Iha’s noodly, introspective fretwork has been especially missed. Doling out dazzling chunks of crystalline riffery both under four and six strings, he steals the show almost everywhere on this album. Corgan’s playing is more ornamental in the mix – he’s comfortable letting Iha govern our ears behind the axe, and instead works to bend and breathe around his dynamics on the vocal front. A promising return to his former glory, NoPast.No
Future.NoSun. scratches an itch that Corgan hasn’t been able to reach since the turn of the 21st century.