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The Smashing Pumpkins- Zeitgeist (Album Review)

Billy Corgan’s old band has been out of the popular consciousness for long enough now that the title of the Smashing Pumpkins’ new album seems like wishful thinking.

So does the music, for that matter – the songs on “Zeitgeist” are unlikely to help the revived, remodeled band recapture the hold its seminal incarnation had in the ’90s on the hearts and minds of alternative-rock kids.

Then again, Corgan’s moribund solo career hasn’t catapulted him back to the heights his band reached around the time of 1993’s “Siamese Dream” or 1995’s “Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” so why not reanimate the band he broke up in 2000? Here’s one good reason: Half the key players are missing.

Although drummer Jimmy Chamberlain has returned, this Smashing Pumpkins reunion doesn’t include guitarist James Iha or bassist D’Arcy Wretzky, who helped define the band’s sound. Here’s what “Zeitgeist” does include: thrashing hard-rock guitars and Corgan’s plaintive vocals on 12 mostly hook-free songs that never manage to rise above churning angst.

Some of the songs seem to nod at social commentary: Opener “Doomsday Clock” thunders through turgid changes as Corgan moans about an impending apocalypse, and “United States” builds from busy drum fills to a wall of fuzzed-out guitars while Corgan cries out, “Revolution/What will they do to me?”

One thing they probably won’t do is spend much time mulling over the rather uninspiring return of the Smashing Pumpkins.