Oceania is an “album within an album” and part of a much larger online concept album called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. In 2009, the Smashing Pumpkin’s front man, Billy Corgan, stated that albums are a dead medium in the world of torrents, YouTube and p2p.

The answer was to release tracks online, one by one for free and then release the various sections as EPs. The Songs for a Sailor and The Solstice Bare were the first two volumes already released as EPs, and were followed by two more online singles. The 13 tracks on Oceania are the conclusion of 44-track Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project. However, if Oceania is any indication of the quality of Corgan’s new Pumpkins line-up, then the alternative rock scene ought to hope that the album is a new beginning for the group and not a conclusion. (After a 2000 breakup and then a 2005 reformation, the last remaining member of the 1990′s era Smashing Pumpkins, besides Corgan, left in March 2009). The content of the new album features a mixture of classic rock, grungy alternative sound, sweeping melodic songs and some dynamic arrangements.

All this may be typical of the Pumpkins, but after a constantly changing line-up, a brazen hit-or-miss online distribution project and the mediocre 2007 album Zeitgeist, Oceania could have had anyone but the die-hard Pumpkins fans raising another eyebrow. But it doesn’t. Oceania sounds thought-out, like actual song-writing has taken place. This makes the album honest and endearing, and when the build up of the opening track slowly winds round and round a tone-perfect guitar lead and breaks with Corgan’s distinct vocals and lyrics like “God! Ride On!” you know that the Smashing Pumpkins are back. Songs like “The Celestials,” “My Love Is Winter” and “Oceania” highlight how good this album is. The Smashing Pumpkins offer an old sound, yet when compared to the current alternative rock scene, it feels renewed and welcome

By Luka Vracar

Published in Playboy South Africa August 2012