After a brief musical hiatus following the sequential dissolution of his two previous bands, Billy Corgan has emerged with a new album. The Future Embrace, the former Pumpkins/Zwan frontman's solo debut, blends the electronics of Adore with Machina's moody, epic wall-of-sound approach for a spectacular outing that easily ranks as one of the best in his fairly prolific career. Its production often notably built around layered ambient guitar noise or echoing riffs atop a synth bass and drum machine foundation, the album is a hybrid of Corgan's new wave influences and his own epic, ethereal rock tendencies.
Standouts here certainly include "To Love Somebody" and "Mina Loy (M.O.H)", the former being an unlikely but unique and beautiful take on the Bee Gees tune with a stylistically appropriate guest vocal appearance from The Cure's Robert Smith. The latter is a brilliant, moody synth-bass driven epic with breathtaking echoing guitar riffs. "Walking Shade", the disc's lead single is a another great up-tempo new wave/modern rock hybrid with noteworthy bridge vocals and a killer chorus, while "DIA" is a bit louder and more organic, a melodic rocker bathed in enough washed out ambient guitar distortion to make Kevin Shields do a double take. "The Camera Eye", perhaps the most straightforward track here with its shuffling rhythm, bass groove, and less processed guitar riffing, also shines, as does the semi-industrial electro-rocker "A100".
While the rest of the tracks don't make as much of an impact, they're certainly far from bad. "All Things Change" is a great opener with an excellent ending as Billy sings "We Can Change the World". "Now and Then" serves as sort of a ballad, its shimmering, cascading delay-ridden guitars providing a beautiful semi-ethereal backdrop. "Sorrows (in Blue)" is, perhaps, an even more lovely and effective ballad with simple but spectacular melodic progressions and an excellent sense of atmospheric ambience. "I'm Ready" is a brighter foray into ethereal rock, while "Pretty, Pretty STAR", an excellent pop number with a great upbeat chorus, appears to have a slight eastern influence. "Strayz" ends the album on a mellower note; a percussion-free lullaby built around snaking bass and reverb-drenched, somewhat sparse synth.
While it should be noted that Smashing Pumpkins fans looking for another Gish or Siamese Dream won't find it here, fans of the Pumpkins' later work will find the best of the band's last two proper, studio-released albums intertwined into one juggernaut. While sometimes atmospherically heavy and loud, it's rarely aggressive, instead creating a world of ethereal beauty around a core of brilliant epic rock and new wave-tinged pop hooks. It's unique, breathtaking, and highly recommended.
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