Billy Corgan, the brains and soul behind ’90s alternative rock heroes The Smashing Pumpkins, takes an electronic turn on his solo debut, "TheFutureEmbrace."
It’s evident right off the bat with the appropriately titled opener "All Things Change." It’s led by hollow, lifeless electronic drums but eventually given a heart by Corgan’s always-mesmerizing vocals.
Despite Corgan’s ever-progressive perfectionism and the album’s forward-looking title, longtime fans can rest easy because there are undoubtedly remnants of Pumpkins scattered about the record. It comes most notably on "DIA," which starts refreshingly with Corgan’s longtime bandmate Jimmy Chamberlain on drums, creating that trademark Pumpkins feeling of hopeful nostalgia they captured so perfectly on 1995’s "1979."
The same goes for the semi-anthemic "I’m Ready," which picks the record back up after the teenage heartbreak downer "Now (and Then)."
Corgan and the Cure’s Robert Smith collaborate to gothify The Bee Gees’ "To Love Somebody," which they somehow do fantastically by taking it to a minor key from a major, with Smith providing backup vocals.
"Walking Shade," the first single, maintains the momentum built by "I’m Ready," but it doesn’t last long. The record finishes fairly weakly with "Pretty Pretty STAR" (a tribute to David Bowie that sounds more like a nursery rhyme than a nod to a rock ’n’ roll icon), and the minimalist dirge "Strayz."
If you’ve never been a fan of Corgan and aren’t into heavily produced electronic music, this record probably isn’t for you. But if you’re a Pumpkins devotee, there’s enough vintage Corgan here to get your head bobbing up and down, just like those cool kids in the "1979" video.
by Billy Corgan