Pre-Release Thoughts for "Shiny and Oh So Bright"
Keeping score in the lead up to next week’s November 16th release of Shiny and Oh So Bright, vol. 1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun, we have now heard 3/8ths (almost half!) of the album, namely “Solara,” “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)” and “Knights of Malta,” and have also been treated to two of the most entertaining, fun and bizarre (in a good way) music videos the Smashing Pumpkins have ever created. Released in inverted fashion, the track-listing of the album actually runs in the opposite order in which the songs were released, opening with “Knights of Malta.” Despite not having heard the rest of the album, “Knights of Malta” still seems like a nice opener. It rings with optimism and promises “we’re gonna ride that rainbow.”
Still having no concrete idea as to what the artistic statement of this album is supposed to be, it is helpful to remember that Billy said in a recent interview that the album doesn’t follow any particular over-arching concept or path, but, like 1994’s under-rated and often over-looked Pisces Iscariot, is more just a collection of songs they felt were good enough for release.
Nevertheless, with a sub-title like “No Past. No Future. No Sun,” one can’t help but feel like the band is trying to say something.
Perhaps it may also be helpful to recall that the scrapped Day For Night album was described by Corgan as being “the end of the conversation” that the band started in 2006, and with “Solara” originally slated to have been on that album, and its music video infused with sardonic imagery, it’s easy to see how that theme may have continued on into this current album.
“Day for night,” by the way, is a special effects term for a technique used in old movies in which they would shoot during the day-time, but make it appear as though it were night in the film. Speculatively, it’s as if it’s a metaphor for saying “I’m in the day-time, but these songs represent the night.” Or perhaps to say it is the end, but not the end. No past, no future? Here and now. Present only.
Then there's"Shiny and Oh So Bright," perhaps a reference to the easily distracted, low attention span mind, easily entranced as if by some shiny object, lured into the false blue light ("No Sun") of the cell phone screen, as opposed to the true light of the sun, representing perhaps God, nature, truth, all things organic and good.
We also have representations of the Greek mythological figure, Icarus. If you recall, his legend is that of the young man entrapped on an island, but used wings manufactured with feathers and wax to fly off the island. Enraptured with the thrill of his flight, he flew higher and higher until the sun melted the wax on his wings and he fell to his death. Perhaps that Icarus then, too, is a metaphor for flying into the “shiny and oh so bright” lure of the sun. I used to think it was a metaphor for the band flying too high and then crashing and burning. A final flight, if you will. But now I’m thinking maybe it means something else. Or maybe it could mean all of those things. One of the great things about the Smashing Pumpkins is their art openly invites and encourages speculation and pondering as to the meaning, often times leaving it only partially revealed. Whatever it means, I'm looking forward to hearing more from this album soon and I'm sure it will give plenty of material to ponder.
Shiny and Oh So Bright, vol.1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. releases November 16th.