Music News

Various Artists

Singer Billy Corgan is alt-rock's Barry Bonds, a star whose outspoken awareness of his own singular gifts make him unpopular and somewhat undervalued. Last year, with Bonds nursing injuries, the San Francisco Giants trotted out younger replacements who couldn't come close to matching his performance. Similarly, with the Smashing Pumpkins on hiatus, Killer's new-school acts interpreted old Corgan creations, yielding inferior results.

Corgan's hyperexpressive sneer can be grating in large doses (such as double albums or B-side boxed sets), but his songs don't work without it. The replacement vocals lack urgency (Roses Are Red's unconvincing "Cherub Rock") and suicidal desperation (Armor for Sleep's reedy "Today"), while the backdrops want for warmth (Vaux's skeletal "1979") and volume (Poison the Well's "Soma," which fizzles when it should detonate). Eighteen Visions inject a solid breakdown into "Quiet," and A Static Lullaby shrieks and shreds, but Killer contains too many uninspired rehashes.

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Andrew Miller