Picks and Pans Review: Mary Star of the Sea

UPDATED 02/10/2003 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/10/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

Zwan (Reprise)

Billy Corgan's first new group since the Smashing Pumpkins disbanded in 2000 (not counting a brief stint with New Order in 2001) bills him as Billy Burke. Alias or no, the singer-guitarist sounds a lot like a Pumpkin in a different patch on much of Zwan's solid if not Smashing debut. Although Zwan is more of a straight-ahead rock band than the alternative Pumpkins, Corgan is still the mastermind, so the album boasts his same art/alt rock sensibility on songs such as the epic, 14-minute "Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea," with its progressive and psychedelic flourishes.

The quintet, which also includes former Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and ex-Chavez singer-guitarist Matt Sweeney, displays a knack for breezier pop on cuts such as "Endless Summer," while venturing into more folky territory on tracks like "Heartsong." The highlight, though, is Zwan's Stones-esque turn on the brooding ballad "Of a Broken Heart," on which Corgan does his best Jagger imitation.

BOTTOM LINE: Zwimmingly executed

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