For his second solo release, Ogilala, Billy Corgan appears to be attempting a reinvention. While he went as Billy Corgan on his first, 2005’s TheFutureEmbrace, Ogilala is released under William Patrick Corgan, and abbreviated to WPC on the album sleeve. There’s no indication that it’s the former Smashing Pumpkins mainman; there’s no leaning on past glories here.
It’s also a stylistic U-turn from TheFutureEmbrace, which was a multi-layered, shoegazey sonic mash of pulsing electronica and distorted guitars. Ogilala is just Corgan, acoustic guitar, piano and strings. The only obvious giveaway that it’s him is that voice, still instantly recognisable more than 30 years later.
Corgan has always had a knack for a hooky harmony, but there are no instantly memorable tunes on Ogilala (produced by Rick Rubin), and instead it’s all graceful, acoustic melodies that blend folkish twangs with soft yet stirring cinematic strings. His songwriting prowess is still evident, just presented differently. There’s little variation in sound over the 11 tracks, but bucketloads of yearning, wistful emotion that is elegant and uplifting, with just a touch of schmaltz.