Oceania has the Pumpkins sounding like a full band again, blending the hazy charm of Pisces Iscariot with the roaring pop of Zwan. The guitars are big on the first two tracks, “Quasar” and “Panopticon.” More than just layers of Billy’s own guitar, there is another axe working just as hard alongside him in Jeff Schroeder. Young Mike Byrne continues to fill the enormous shoes (figuratively speaking) of the mighty Jimmy Chamberlin nicely. Both of the first tracks display that incessant, driving pitter-patter – chugging drums that use fills and flourishes to propel the music and carry it from line to line – which is a Smashing Pumpkin signature. Byrne is able to accomplish this in his own style, paying homage to his predecessor without marring the legacy or being a slavish knock-off. Nicole Fiorentino’s bass lines hum melodically adding the most vibrance to BC’s tunes since Paz’s work on Mary Star of The Sea. Fiorentino lends depth to the SP wall of guitar that is usually only accompanied by Corgan’s follow-along-with-the-guitar style of bass playing. Her vocal presence also stands out as a shining bonus across the record. This has historically been an underutilized weapon in a line up that always has a chick in it.
“One Heart, One Diamond” opens with a chill wave-like synth intro that could easily belong to Washed Out sans the fact that it is actually a dynamic rock song. The near-epic title track allows the new band to sprawl and flex leaving an open-ended Floyd-ish outro that will lend itself nicely to live jams. Oceania seals the deal with the 1-2-3 attack of “The Chimera,” “Glissandra,” and “Inkless” to close the album. This record ripples and shimmers with ole Bill Corgan at the helm of a band that, from the sound of it, is all in.
Listen to “Inkless”