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CD Reviews: Review of The Future Embrace by Billy Corgan
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“I always thought the solo thing was so egoistic, and believe it or not, I didn’t want that,” Billy Corgan said recently. “I always thought bands were better than solo artists; David Bowie being one of those rare exceptions. But shit happens.”

And so we get The Future Embrace, Corgan’s first and, if you believe rumors of a pending Smashing Pumpkins reunion, possibly last solo record. The modern rock poster child for variety and alteration, Corgan has voided more essential bands than most would ever be fortunate enough to form. The Smashing Pumpkins’ legacy needs little explanation, but it was the oh-so-brief stint with 2003’s Zwan that was painfully underrated. All the while, this eccentric singer/songwriter/guitarist/collaborator extraordinaire from Chicago keeps trying to find his own pearly destination. With help here from the Cure’s Robert Smith and Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, Corgan spreads his more-than-capable wings to craft the record he wanted to make. “This is the first time I said, Okay, I don’t care what the trends are. I don’t care what the modern marketplace says. I’m just going to make the album I want to make.” The outcome is a mixed bag to say the least, a veritable hodgepodge of experimentation, from melodic piano ballads to haunting electronic Goth.

“Walking Shade” is the first radio cut, a feverish techno dance number that probably works wonders in the dark clubs of inner cities, metro Chicago for sure. Along the same lines, “Mina Loy” resonates with White Zombie vibes, brooding with a Manchester club beat, heavy synthesizers and drum loops galore. The monotonous ode to disco (“A100”) could have fallen from New Order’s catalog, as could have “DIA”, thick with Gothic influence. In between, an always-outside-the-box Corgan throws in a couple of restrained ballads, including, of all things, the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”. It may sound interesting on paper, but the version is a dud.

Corgan proclaimed in a press release earlier this summer that he was determined to “renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins” as a token of appreciation to the fans of Chicago. “I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams,” he declared. One has to believe, after muddling through The Future Embrace, that these devout fans, both local and afar, will welcome the old band with open arms. For as a solo artist, the great Corgan was unable to achieve even a glimpse of what he was able to do with the short-lived Zwan, let alone the Pumpkins. In fact, he would have been wise to pay heed to his own words: “I always thought bands were better than solo artists!”  

~Red Rocker 




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