Smashing Pumpkins Albums Ranked Worst to Best
"I've tried to make something indescribable," Billy Corgan told MTV in 1998, previewing the retooled sound of Smashing Pumpkins' polarizing fourth LP, Adore.
A noble mission — but also a difficult one: The album's folky reveries and cushy electronics didn't fit the Pumpkins mold of the previous seven years, leaving behind the proggy guitar solos, virtuoso drumming and impossibly layered production. The title, he revealed later, was a play on "a door" — teasing a new era of the band's career. But everything is cyclical in Corgan's world, no entryway ever fully shut. As a wise man once sang, "The End Is the Beginning Is the End."
And so Smashing Pumpkins have continued to evolve over the years: reacting against the preconceptions of fans and critics (the arty synth-pop of 2020's Cyr), occasionally evoking the revved-up psych-metal or gothic dream-pop (2012's Oceania) of their storied past.
Meanwhile, the band, as a physical entity, has also changed dramatically. While it's now beyond cliche to describe Corgan himself as Smashing Pumpkins, his supporting cast often influences the music they make, at least in the spirit of maximizing talents. (The most significant example is Jimmy Chamberlin, whose distinctive combo of jazziness and heaviness anchors every album he's played on. Well, almost — we'll get to that later.)
They can't all be Siamese Dream, but every Smashing Pumpkins project is at least interesting — a reflection of Corgan's constant craving for big statements. Below, we survey that entire journey, ranking all the band's studio albums (not including compilations).