Billy Corgan is the alt-rock boy who cried wolf: he's threatened to return Smashing Pumpkins to their '90s salad days so often, nobody paid attention when he finally did it in 2018. A decade prior to that year's reunion tour and its accompanying album, Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. -- a typically convoluted title that makes Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness as simple a title as Gish -- Corgan reconnected with drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and revived the Smashing Pumpkins name for the metallic Zeitgeist, but the difference in 2018 is that guitarist James Iha is back in the fold (original bassist D'arcy Wretzky is estranged from the group). This is the lineup featured on Shiny and Oh So Bright, which despite its lengthy title, runs a brisk half-hour. Brevity works in the Pumpkins' favor, as it becomes easy to appreciate how working with Iha and producer Rick Rubin has sharpened Corgan's attack, not just as a songwriter but as a record maker. Filled with direct hooks and colorful -- but not florid -- arrangements, Shiny and Oh So Bright lives up to the promise of its title: its shimmering surfaces and well-defined melodies feel welcoming, not alienating. Perhaps there are traces of angst within the lyrics to the album's seven songs, but they're overshadowed by the big, open-hearted vibe of Shiny, one that evokes the poppier elements of classic Pumpkins, but never feels nostalgic or pandering. Instead, Corgan delivers something unexpected: music that's rich but settled, music that plays to his strengths, music where he seems happy in his own skin.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine