Album review

Zwan : Mary Star Of The Sea

Zwan : Mary Star Of The Sea Zwan's revitalising tones reflect a new band standing at the bottom rung of rock's steep ladder, curiously peering up with wide childlike eyes. Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain's decision to start afresh - rather than pick up where they left off with The Smashing Pumpkins - has given Zwan's music an open and untainted attitude.
    Due to the fact that Corgan and Chamberlain were such recognised players in their previous band, many listeners will approach the new Zwan record as the long lost Smashing Pumpkins album rather than an impressive first outing. People who make these comparisons will undoubtedly be disappointed with Mary Star Of The Sea, which does not have the abstract lyrics of Bullet With Butterfly Wings, the anger of Disarm or the depth of Tonight, Tonight. The shift in posture is reflected perfectly on the sleeve artwork; Zwan's 70s surreal rock influenced symbol is a far cry from the gothic artwork that headlined The Smashing Pumpkins' most prominent albums.

Another noticeable change is the loss of the self-indulgent angst that seasoned The Smashing Pumpkins. This has been partly exchanged with an uplifting sound with frequent religious references; from the committed title of Declarations Of Faith to the opening of Honestly, where Corgan declares "I believe, I believe."
    The mood is balanced with the subdued acoustic Of A Broken Heart and Heartsong which appear to be a last ditch attempts to clinch the support of any unconvinced Pumpkins fans.
    As a replacement to antagonistic mood that gave The Smashing Pumpkins their typecast edge, Zwan offer an uncomplicated and composed approach; listen out for Corgan's poised voice on Desire, and the guitars that almost seem to be held by reigns on Endless Summer.

There are no grand gestures. Zwan are a band who are genuinely pushing the rock envelope, embodying a down-to-earth sound which gives the album a live and yielding touch. Many people questioned the demise of The Smashing Pumpkins. Zwan is the honest answer.

:: Paul Newbold

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