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Zwan - Mary star of the sea (Reprise)

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Welcome to the return of Billy Corgan and what a return it is. Instead of disappearing any further up his own arse, the ex-Smashing Pumpkins leader has recorded some of his best songs to date. One listen to the debut single 'Honestly' will prove this beyond all doubt. Laden with luscious flange-ridden guitars and superb, beautiful melodies, it's the sound of a man who has finally found his happy.

His voice hasn't changed much, but he's definitely reverted back to "Siamese Dream"-era Pumpkins as far as song-writing goes. From the opening chords of the fantastic 'Lyric' straight through to the end of the album, there's one big huge difference. No, it's not the song-writing, that's as strong as ever. In fact, this couldn't be a better rock record. That thing is Billy's singing and lyrics.

He sounds like he's having fun, even on the sprawling, prog rockish 'Jesus I/Mary star of the sea' and especially on the sarcastic 'Baby, let's rock'. All the Generation X angst seems to have been washed away and left a happier man. You can almost hear the smile in his voice. Now that's unexpected. Zwan isn't just Billy Corgan's pet band, he's backed by a some great musicians, including ex-Pumpkin's drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and A Perfect Circle's Paz on bass. You don't need me to tell you to check this out; it's a classic in the making.

Ken McGrath

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