When I was first handed a copy of American Gothic to review I thought, fantastic. The Smashing Pumpkins releasing an acoustic EP gives me all kinds of opportunities to crack jokes about how Billy Corgan was either too depressed to turn the power on or too non conformist to pay his power bill.
All these assumptions were dashed by the very first track.
The Rose March reconfirms the non-conformity the Smashing Pumpkins are known for. The presence of an electric rhythm guitar on the track seems to be saying "well it's mostly acoustic, get over it".
The acoustic approach has allowed Corgan to write songs with the full intent of seeing just how far he can push the instruments. It makes for a refreshing change from the common approach when bands produce acoustic albums, where they tend to re-hash current material into acoustic form with a best fit approach.
Second track Again, Again, Again builds from a slow introduction into moments of power that are not commonly associated with acoustic music.
The raw power in the absence of electricity is made possible from a combination of factors. One of those is that at the right moments, Jimmy Chamberlin hits the drums just as hard as his skin work on the classic albums Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness.
But Chamberlin's drum work on American Gothic is more than just hard hitting. The intricacies and precision he displays serve as a master class for all aspiring drummers. The EP is full of shifts in momentum and the drums really drive the mood on this brief musical journey.
The guitar work also plays its part in the musical shifts. Billy Corgan arranges strong riffs and delicate melodies seamlessly.
I mention arrangement because I feel this four tracker benefits from the fact that these songs have been written with an acoustic approach in mind.
In conclusion I can't really say enough about this EP apart from to give it my full recommendation, I just wish it was longer.
American Gothic track listing
The Rose March
Again, Again, Again (The Crux)
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