Lead Pumpkin Billy Corgan softens the angst for a more muted but nonetheless stunning follow-up to 1995's epic double-album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. He's replaced the gritty guitars and plaintive wails with slower tempos, near whispers and even a distant banjo. However, the sentiments caressed by Corgan's vocals are largely the same — love, obsession, possession. Yet the dramatic sentimentality never gushes into treacle thanks to Corgan's haunting voice. “For Martha,” a elegy to Corgan's mother, the dramatic “Tear” and the unsettling “Crestfallen” are standouts. Once again, the Pumpkins prove they can sustain that oxymoronic status of being both adventurous and enduring.
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