||Virgin Records Us
ADORE was nominated for the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance. In the wake of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin's departure, the Pumpkins have taken a giant step away from the grunge-flavored, turbo-powered alt-rock anthems that made them famous. On ADORE, Billy Corgan and company opt instead for a more scaled-down approach that relies heavily on acoustic instruments and ballads of love and longing. Corgan may still be expressing angst here, but he does it in an understated, romantic way, addressing matters of the heart with subtlety and maturity on tunes like "Shame" and "To Sheila." Don't take all this acoustic-based balladry (a path also explored by James Iha on his solo debut) as a sign that the band is out of touch with contemporary production trends, though. Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb is on hand to add a sprinkling of electronica to the proceedings via his programming talents. His contributions, like much of ADORE itself, remains modestly unobtrusive, providing just the right underpinning for some of the tunes. As the album ends with a solo piano instrumental, we're reminded that Smashing Pumpkins are a band who refuse to ossify, constantly changing and evolving. ADORE is just one more leg of their continuing journey.