The Smashing Pumpkins' seventh "official" studio full-length, Oceania, is an "album within an album," as it has been placed in the middle of the band's ongoing 44-song long Teargarden by Kaleidyscope concept album project that started in 2009.
After a tepid response to the one-song-at-a-time approach of this ambitious album project and the death of good friend and collaborator Mark Tulin (of the legendary psychedelic group Electric Prunes) in early 2011, head Pumpkin Billy Corgan got inspired to commit himself and his bandmates to making a proper album once again. After a year's worth of writing and recording in Arizona and his home state of Illinois (between 2010 and 2011), it was just a matter of time before the highly anticipated album was finally released after having been initially slated for an early September 2011 date. That day finally arrived on June 19.
Corgan, ace guitarist Jeff Schroeder, and drummer Mike Byrne waste no time getting aggressive on the first two (Drop-D-tuned) rock jams, "Quasar" and "Panopticon." The numerous solo flourishes and slight delay effect-aided electric guitars make the former track stand out, along with some spiritual lyrics like "Yod He Va Hey Om," which could've been influenced by Corgan's time spent with psychedelic rock pals Ya Ho Wah 13 about four years ago. The latter track features more radio-friendly choruses, and highly musical bass lines, courtesy of Nicole Fiorentino (ex-Veruca Salt, Light FM).
The cool, summery vintage synths of "Violet Rays" recall Yes, but with its theme of loneliness and distorted ballad-like guitar strums, it all makes for a rather new sound for the band. Similarly, the synths and strings of "One Diamond, One Heart" show this to be the happier cousin of "Violet Rays." But when first listening to "One's" opening beats, one might recall the Adore era, and the start of that album's soft rocking storytelling gem, "The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete" in particular.
Aside from the pleasantly heavy "The Chimera," which has traces of "Frail & Bedazzled" from 1994's Pisces Iscariot (one of the greatest compilation albums of all time), and the aforementioned first two cuts, other tracks that can be construed as rockers include "My Love Is Winter" and "Glissandra." "My Love" is a real treat and is a much improved version than the live version from a few years back; it's longer and really allows Schroeder to shine and wail away.