When Billy Corgan took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune to announce the reformation of the Smashing Pumpkins, few would have guessed that we would get Zwan instead. But perhaps it was just wishful thinking on our part. After all, this 2007 incarnation of the group does feature the very same Pumpkins members as the short-lived Zwan: Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Zeitgeist, sadly, proves just as forgettable as their former outfit's first and only album, Mary Star of the Sea.
It's not for lack of trying (is it ever with Corgan?) — more trying the wrong things. Corgan clearly intends the Pumpkins' official comeback to be a rock record. Most of the moody goth pretenses that characterized the band's post-Mellon Collie output have been ditched for squealing guitars and, erm, squealing Corgan. But the songs rarely do the band any favors. Proffered “rockers” like “Doomsday Clock” and the single “Tarantula” sound like rote exercises — tracks in service of riffs as opposed to the other way around. And the less said about the 10-minute dirge “United States” — a direct descendant of “Jesus, I/ Mary Star of the Sea” — the better. “We are stars,” Corgan would have us believe (“Starz”), but Zeitgeist is more prayer than convincing argument.