There's always been a stargazing bent to Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins' baldly ambitious guitar rock, so it's no surprise to see Oceania's track list populated with "Quasar"s, "Violet Rays" and "The Celestials." Outer space and the ocean's depths are two potent realms of the unknown, and as Corgan has grown increasingly spiritual with age, they serve as handy metaphors for greater metaphysical unknowables: life, death, religious faith. So Oceania is full of references to Krishna and the Holy Ghost, "eternal eternities" and "blessed journeys," "divine purpose" and "the light within"—but also cheeseball lines like "I'm gonna love you 101 percent" and a ballad to prescription drug Thorazine. The album opens and closes with a handful of searing rockers in the classic Pumpkins vein, but its middle section sags with proggy, ponderous ballads, and too few guitar theatrics to buoy Corgan's questing lyrics.
Eric Grandy, Google Play