This ranking chart shows the Smashing Pumpkins‘ albums from best to worst. It does not include their most recent release, CYR. This ranking is based on rank aggregations from the website AlbumOfTheYear, which includes 131 professional reviews:
Which are The Smashing Pumpkins’ best albums?
Siamese Dream is at the top of the list. With fresh and accessible, it includes many high-quality songs. It’s the band’s second album, which according to urban legends, was mostly recorded by Billy Corgan alone with drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. The other band members, guitarist James Iha and bassist D’arcy Wretsky, apparently were unable to record their parts as quickly as Corgan wanted. Their debut album Gish, which is ranked second, was seemingly recorded in the same way.
Their ambitious third release, Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness (1995) is a double album that ranks in third place. This piece of work sounds enormous and orchestral, it includes 28 tracks and has a total running time of over two hours. Some well-known classics that launched the Smashing Pumpkins into their peak of popularity are featured on this album, such as Bullet with butterfly wings, Zero, 1979, and Tonight Tonight.
In the fourth spot of this ranking chart, we find a bit of a surprise. Machina II: Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, was not promoted much upon its release in 2000. In fact, this album did not even receive an official release on CD or vinyl, as band leader Billy Corgan himself handed a few homemade pressings to friends and radio stations and instructed everyone to distribute digital copies of it.
On the contrary, Machina/The Machines of God, did enjoy an official physical release but was not as well received. Having said that, it is in fact one of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins records.
1998 was a year of changes for the Smashing Pumpkins. Without their drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who was responsible for a dramatic dynamic shift in their sound, the band recorded Adore. This album had a more electronic sound and did not feature prominent guitars and drums as their previous releases. Soundgarden’s and Pearl Jam’s member Matt Cameron, was recruited as a session drummer for some tracks.
The Smashing Pumpkins’ worst albums
The second era in the career of the Smashing Pumpkins is really not their most successful. During this time, the band’s classic lineup never got together.
From this era, their album Oceania (2012) is the one that ranks the highest. It is in fact a fair good album, but it was not appealing to critics or fans. Many criticized that founding members James Iha, D’arcy Wretzky, and Jimmy Chamberlin were not part of the band at this time. Basically, it was Billy Corgan with other people playing as Smashing Pumpkins. Also, during this time Corgan had embarked on yet another ambitious project called Teargarden by Kaleidoscope, which consisted in releasing separate songs. Oceania was a departure in that scheme of things, as it is an LP, but remained as part of the project.
Oceania features Nicole Fiorentino on bass and Mike Byrne on drums. Both of them did a great job and this is the only SP record that they play in. On his side, guitarist Jeff Shroeder has been in the Smashing Pumpkins since 2007.
The worst Smashing Pumpkins album is, in my humble opinion, Monuments to an Elegy. It has no big songs as if all of the tracks included were just fillers. I usually blame this on the session drummer in charge here, Tommy Lee (from Mötley Crüe), who has no dynamics or skills to match any of the former band’s drummers.
At the bottom of this ranking, we find other releases from The Smashing Pumpkins during their 2000s era. These include Shiny and oh So Bright Vol 1: No Past, No Future, No Sun, (2018), Machina/The Machines of God, and Zeitgeist (2007). I sincerely believe that these albums deserve better. Sure, Shiny and Oh So Bright is not a spectacular album, but it is an enjoyable one at least. As said above, Machina is one of their best in my opinion, and with time I have come to appreciate a bit more Zeitgeist‘s loud and aggressive sound.