"Jesus, I've taken my cross/All to leave and follow thee/I'm destitute, despised, forsaken/All to leave and follow thee."
— from "Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea"

When the Smashing Pumpkins died of natural causes in 2000, their inscrutable singer/songwriter Billy Corgan could have easily packed up his instruments and retired from his hectic rock and roll lifestyle with mounds of money in the bank. Instead, he re– teamed with Pumpkins' drummer Jimmy Chamberlin in 2001, adding guitarists Matt Sweeny (Skunk && Chavez) and David Pajo (Slint, Papa M, Tortoise, Stereolab), plus bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle). The alternative rock quintet christened themselves Zwan, making their official major label debut with Mary Star of the Sea, which incorporates melodic pop, arena rock, and sophisticated, spiritually tinged songwriting.

Spiritually tinged? Corgan? Yes, and it's present from the very first verse of the album's first song, "Lyric," in which he wails, "Here comes my faith to carry me on, a faith not ungreat/I fight to stay strong so I stand accused of playing numb/I know it is wrong for I give my strength/I give my heart, take these chains." His reflections may seem to some nothing more than the poetic prowess he's demonstrated with Smashing Pumpkins, but others might interpret lines that come later in the song as pointing toward heaven above — "A lyric, a time, a crusade, a line/One minute, a friend, a road without end."

Religious mentions are equally evasive on "Declarations of Faith" as the front man groans, "So stop laughing and play the muse/This heartache rots that which spills from my heart into your will/ So give in to the rivers' wind/I declare myself, declare myself of faith." ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.