The only form CYR represents a return to is Corgan’s familiar, tedious navel-gazing and nostalgic rehash.
The year is (was) 2020, and Billy Corgan, the Draconian master of alt-rock melancholy, as apt to slam power chord riffs on guitars stacked 40 high as he is to whine about whores and heartache over slinky synth lines, has finally got the band back together — well, most of it, anyway. Jimmy Chamberlin, the manic skin-beater whose fondness for heroin led to his brief dismissal from the Smashing Pumpkins (hence the drum machine melancholy and glittery gloom of Adore) and rhythm guitarist James Iha are both credited participants of the inconsequential new Pumpkins album CYR; only original bassist D’Arcy Wretzky (who didn’t actually play bass very often anyway, it should be said) had her offer to rejoin reneged, petulantly, by Corgan. Siamese Dream and the self-pitying bombast of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness have aged poorly, especially compared to the fantod howl of Layne Staley, whose pain makes Corgan’s sadness seem silly, or the irreverence of Corgan’s loathed Pavement. So now CYR, a spiritual kindred of Adore and whatever Corgan has been doing for the last ten years, is out, and it is every bit as bad as you’d expect, all tired keyboard tinkering and spindly-voiced musings about fractured wishes and diamonds cutting hearts. Don’t be fooled by the marketing company claiming a return to form — this is Corgan doing Corgan, 70-something minutes of nostalgic navel-gazing, goth-lite masturbation, with none of Chamberlin’s heroic fills (e.g. “Geek USA”). As suggested by the album art and his own Libertarian confessions, Corgan has less in common with the great frontmen of the ’90s than he does another pseudo-literate egomaniac: Ayn Rand.
Published as part of Album Roundup: Oct. – Dec. 2020 | Part 1.