Smashing Pumpkins' Double Album 'Cyr' Fails to Match Billy Corgan's Ambitions
Published Nov 25, 2020For myriad reasons, it's best to approach each post-millennium Smashing Pumpkins album with as little backstory as possible. With that being said: after reuniting the "classic" lineup of his iconic band (which just meant rehiring Jimmy Chamberlin after a two-album absence and bringing back James Iha), Billy Corgan has recorded this double album — it's similar in scope to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, comes off as a spiritual sequel to Adore, and also counts as the second release in a series under the clumsy qualifier of Shiny and Oh So Bright.
What is important to know about Cyr, however, is how large of a swing Corgan takes here; its ambition is virtually the album's only redeeming quality. As a keyboard-heavy, 20-track/72-minute release, the Pumpkins' eleventh LP is both familiar in its structure, as well as a pleasant departure from the Terry Date/Rick Rubin-produced proggy, hard-rock Corgan has been peddling over the past 13 years. For a musician who has been able to create such soaring and grandiose sounds from his instruments in the past, Billy Corgan, in his role of songwriter/producer, has made an extraordinarily flat and thin-sounding collection of songs, with only the symphonic "Wyttch" and the gothic "Black Forest, Black Hills" coming off dynamic and sonically adventurous.
Joined by country pop artist Katie Cole and former Black Eyed Peas collaborator Sierra Swan, Cyr seems to be Corgan's attempt at making an accessible album — saturated with vocal effects, enveloped production and programmed beats. But the synth sound, perhaps the most promising and frustrating aspect of the album, adds great depth to tracks like the moody "Dulcet in E" and buoyant "Purple Blood," but comes off gaudy on "Save Your Tears" and "Tyger, Tyger."
The fact that the band have already released ten tracks from the album before its release supports the idea that there are no real standout tracks here, but there's also no stinkers. Most of the material just hovers around the same tempo, tone, lyrical style and sound dynamics, robbing the listener of any sort of emotional peaks or valleys that are so important when floating a double album. It's simply a shame that the execution of Cyr fails to match the naked ambition Corgan's concepts promised. (Sumerian)