Fresh from announcing that he would "piss on" Radiohead to show up their pomposity, Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins interrupt their 44-song concept release about the tarot for Oceania, an "album-within-an-album". Continuing to make this principled stand against pretentiousness, Corgan staggers around a number of meandering rock songs in search of hokey mysticism. "God right on! Krishna right on! Mark right on! … Let's ride on!" he urges on opener Quasar, like a beefy, post-grunge Kula Shaker. Frustratingly, when that song hits its stride, there's a nod to that insistent drive that made the Pumpkins in their prime so urgent, which means Oceania isn't without merit. When it finds focus, as it does on the lean, certain The Celestials and The Chimera, it's a clear, timely reminder that Corgan can be a fine songwriter. But elsewhere, and too often, tracks chug and puff along a bloated path to nowhere.
Rebecca Nicholson is a columnist for the Observer and the Guardian