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Album Review

October 22, 1995|Richard Cromelin

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS

"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"

Virgin

* * * 1/2

"I'm running out of sound," sings Billy Corgan, seemingly determined to display every one he can think of during this sprawling swan song for the Pumpkins as we know them. "And I am changing, changing," he adds, returning to one of the themes that unify the nearly two hours of music on the two-CD set.

To provide a full context for his restless farewell, Corgan creates a gallery of the things he disdains, becoming a punk, a death-rock nihilist, a drifting glam-rocker, an industrial-rock ranter, et al. His strangled sneer is made for mocking, and he's relentless in these denunciations.

His wobbly voice is erratic on more complex emotional terrain, but the band executes every targeted style--as well as its own gleaming psychedelic pop and fierce rock--with bracing command. Things can get unwieldy, but the music's sweep and vulnerability make Corgan seem like today's most worthy heir to Brian Wilson.

What this misfit longs for is connection--with home, with family, with his listeners, with lovers, with himself. His turbulent struggle to attain it, and to contact "the urgency of now" (a phrase he uses in two different songs), yields the sense of epic quest that comes with life's major transitions.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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