The Smashing Pumpkins are taking full advantage of the current ‘90s revival movement with their explosive new album CYR, proving that the band is not only still around, but fully capable of dominating the alternative music genre that they helped create. CYR is just the kind of moody, genre-bending, art-rock experimental album that has given Smashing Pumpkins their distinct sound since they broke out of the grunge music scene in the early ‘90s.
Peppered with pulsing beats and synth-driven rhythms, CYR is a big musical jump from Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 hit album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. But the band has decidedly ditched the heavy guitar riffs in exchange for a new electro-dance goth rock sound with all the post-punk melancholia still intact. If there’s one constant with the band’s ever-evolving sound and revolving door of new members, it is that Smashing Pumpkins never limit their musical capabilities to one particular genre.
Frontman Billy Corgan, who’s never one to shy away from darker subject matter. He hammers out ferociously breathy vocals that are both snarling and ethereal as CYR covers topics such as all consuming love, addiction, the supernatural, and with lyrics like “Shot to the ground / Set it off / Like your phoenix, I will fly, / From dread dawns to sky” featured in the track ‘Purple Blood‘, there’s an overall theme of rebirth that subtly eludes to the band’s 2018 decision to reunite after their messy break up in the year 2000.
The album opens with ‘The Colour of Love‘, the most promising song in terms of singles. The track features a brooding backbeat decorated with euphoric synth and a chorus of backup singers that echo Corgan to create a visceral sense of surrealist drama. The song is the perfect scene setter for CYR, and yet in comparison to this danceable opening track, the rest of the chaotically busy record seems to fall slightly flat. There is so much going on that at times it feels as though the remainder of CYR gets a little lost along the way.
Even though CYR has numerous spotlight singles like ‘Purple Blood’, ‘Ramona‘, and ‘Confessions of a Dopamine Addict‘, none of them seem to hold a candle to the indisputably catchy ‘The Colour of Love’. In its entirety, the album loses track of a real cohesive theme amongst all of the dark experimental art that Billy Corgan has dreamt up. CYR is overwhelming at times, both in terms of tempo and wailing vocals, and its intensity is enough to set your heart racing after the first few songs. Like a weekend-long underground rave, at some point you need to come up for air.
Billy Corgan’s chameleonic ability to experiment with different genres seems to have led the band a little astray from their original sound, but this artistic shot in the dark doesn’t come without its moments of nostalgic clarity. After the band’s own dramatic past of drugs, addiction, and having to forcibly kick original members out, the hectic noise that CYR produces is an autobiographical reflection of the nightmare that Smashing Pumpkins have faced in order to get to where they are today.
CYR is loud, it’s edgy, and it’s a little weird at times, but that’s Smashing Pumpkins’ MO, and expecting the unexpected is the band’s universal takeaway.