November 06, 1995 12:00 PM

The Smashing Pumpkins

Now that the Smashing Pumpkins have proven their marketplace muscle with 1993’s 3.8 million-selling Siamese Dream, the Chicago foursome can afford to indulge in some risky musical business. But this turgid, overambitious 28-song double album is not such a sound artistic investment. In an apparent attempt to prove themselves utterly sophisticated and complex alternative-rock eggheads, the Pumpkins have given their fourth effort an impossibly pretentious title, clubbed the set’s two discs “Dawn to Dusk” and “Twilight to Starlight” and stocked them both with esoteric song titles like “Here Is No Why” and “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans.”

Unfortunately the music is equally murky. Instead of trying to forge some unique identity once and for all, frontman and primary songwriter Billy Corgan and his bandmates vacillate wildly. They open with a Chopinesque nocturne (the title tune), then move on to grandiose classic rock (“Tonight, Tonight”), an ugly punk tantrum (“Tales of a Scorched Earth”), deceptively sweet-sounding pop (“Cupid de Locke”) and just about any other idea they can whip out, never committing to anything. Granted, Mellon Collie is not without merit—Corgan does have a few good riffs up his sleeve, and the band plays them like pros—but it remains the unfocused work of a successful group that still needs to find its way. (Virgin)

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