Smashing Pumpkins' 'Oceania': What the Critics Are Saying

Smashing Pumpkins Oceania CD cover P

The album continues Billy Corgan's planned 44-track art-rock epic.

Before The Smashing Pumpkins released its best-selling album, the double-disc Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, there was speculation the band was being overambitious. Now frontman Billy Corgan is in the midst of an even more ambitious project—a planned 44-track concept album, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, that is to be parsed out over the next few years.

With some of those 44 songs already have been given away for free, Corgan, the only original band member on the album, is releasing the next batch of 13 with Oceania, which is billed “an album within an album.” 

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The release of Oceania means one thing: The famously critical Corgan must submit to another round of judgment from the music critics. But with the record receiving largely positive reviews, the self-declared “king of gloom” may have something to smile about.

Here is a sampling of what the critics are saying.

Rolling Stone said this chapter in Corgan’s 44-song concept album is “also a good stand-alone record, a bong-prog take on the alt-rock grandeur of Gish and Siamese Dream.” Reviewer Jon Dolan gave the album three out of 5 stars.

The Pumpkins’ hometown Chicago Tribune gave the record 3.5 stars out of four stars: “Corgan is most articulate as an arranger of sounds, and Oceania paints on a big canvas,” reviewer Greg Kot wrote. “Corgan’s keyboard colors are especially vital to setting the album’s tone, as are his incorporation of vocal harmonies.”

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Speaking of the windy city, the Pumpkins’ other major hometown paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the record a perfect five out of five stars, declaring for once, “believe the advance buzz about it -- this is easily one of the best albums of the band's entire career.”

The BBC advised listeners to give Oceania time to digest. “On Oceania, he [Corgan] has written a number of great songs. On a first listen, though, this is not immediately apparent,” wrote Ian Winwood. “Of late, The Smashing Pumpkins have not been a band to emphasise their more accessible elements, preferring instead to test the listener’s commitment with layers of electronics and melodies carried only by Corgan’s deliberately fragile and nasal voice.”

Oceania hit stores Tuesday.