Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Cyr’ Review – Imaginative Songwriting and Sonics Triumph on New Album

2020-12-03

Album review: Smashing Pumpkins have returned with their new album,

Smashing Pumpkins – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo by Jonathan Weiner

Review: With Smashing Pumpkins’ new album, “Cyr,” Billy Corgan and company have crafted a record that’s fundamentally solid, with strong songwriting and imaginative sonics

The Smashing Pumpkins are back with a new double album, “Cyr,” which is choc-full of synth-pop and new wave tones. Frontman Billy Corgan is known for keeping Smashing Pumpkins fresh and new with every release, never simply regenerating old sounds and nostalgia, and “Cyr” continues in that trajectory, offering a new album that stands apart from the others in the longstanding alternative rock band’s catalog.

“Cyr” marks the Smashing Pumpkins’ follow-up to 2018’s “Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1.” It’s also the group’s second album since three-quarters of their “classic” lineup got back together in 2018, bringing together Corgan, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin and Jeff Schroeder. Over the years, there’s no denying that Corgan has been the glue that has kept the Smashing Pumpkins brand going, but with most the other original band members now fully in toe, “Cyr” is the Pumpkins’ most cohesive record in years, with them sounding more like a “band” than ever.

If fans are looking for a guitar-driven alternative rock album with “Cyr,” they won’t get it, as the album steps away from pure alternative rock to welcome a bevy of synthesizers, drum machines and softer guitars. While the album doesn’t pack non-stop radio-friendly alt-rock numbers, it does feature some of the most imaginative songwriting the Pumpkins have delivered in a long time. Songs such as “Adrennalynne” and “Ramona” feature cool, clean disco beats and catchy choruses, while “Wyttch” is the one song on “Cyr” that sounds like it would belong on a ’90s alt-rock playlist.

Those looking for some so-called hits will find them in “Cyr” and “The Colour of Love,” both of which present the kind of hooks and polished pop appeal that it takes to chart on mainstream radio. As the album continues, songs such as “Birch Grove,” “Ramona,” “Wrath,” “The Hidden Sun” and “Starrcraft” offer peaceful pop-rock that relies heavily on the album’s synth-driven approach.

Listening to “Cyr” from front to back, one would never guess the Smashing Pumpkins gained their acclaim in the ’90s- this sounds like an ’80s record, crafted today. That makes sense, though, as the Pumpkins started out in the ’80s and developed their sound amid the ’80s new wave and synth explosion. Whether it’s dubbed ’80s, ’90s or 2020s rock is irrelevant, as the strength of “Cyr” rests in the creativity of the set, not the particular sound. With “Cyr,” Corgan and company have crafted a record that’s fundamentally solid, with strong songwriting and imaginative sonics, making this the Pumpkins record that fans maybe didn’t ask for, but needed.

Ink rating: 9/10. Essential songs: “Cyr,” “The Colour of Love,” “Wyttch,” “Wrath,” “The Hidden Sun.” For: Smashing Pumpkins fans that love the classic line-up (minus one) and don’t mind hearing a very new and novel sounds from Corgan and the crew.

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