We've heard Billy Corgan spitting venom and bile over grungy whirlwinds. We've heard him deliver depressing electro ballads, dimly lit pop, squealing prog-metal opuses and super emotional ballads about, well, birth, love, and death, mostly.

It's a big topic, one he's been covering under several different guises for a long time.

But on Shiloh, one of the last tracks on Corgan's first solo album in more than 10 years, we hear a different side of him. Shiloh has gentle acoustic guitars. Shiloh has graceful strings. Shiloh finds Corgan cooing lines like, "You're gonna be just right," and, "At peace with every dime".

On Shiloh, Corgan sounds more than happy. He sounds, dare we say it, content.


The same can be said for most of Ogilala, Corgan's follow-up to his oddball 2005 effort TheFutureEmbrace on which he performs under his own name - William Patrick - for the first time. It's a sign things are different this time around, and they are.

On Ogilala, Rick Rubin strips Corgan's songs back to the bare essentials, removing those gargantuan rhythm sections, leaving Corgan front and centre, naked and alone. Some songs, like Amarinthe and Archer, are just vocals and acoustic guitars, with a few extra embellishments for atmosphere.

It's intense, dramatic stuff from someone who's found various ways to scream into the void. Here, Corgan is humble, vulnerable, touching. "I foraged beneath the darkest deeps," are literally Ogilala's first words. One song later, he's declaring, "It's a long way, to get back home". Half-Life of an Autodidact ends with a flute. Aeronaut is just stunning.

Many of these songs could be layered up with guitars and drums, turning them into epic Pumpkins anthems. By leaving them simple and unadorned, Corgan's made an album more Smashing Pumpkins than any Pumpkins album yet.

The irony is that Pumpkins fans probably won't find it that smashing. Go figure.

William Patrick Corgan - Ogilala
Label: Reprise Records
Stars: Four
Verdict: Smashing solo effort from Pumpkin king