From their album with a long-winded title, Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. 1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. with eight songs comes a compactly urgent tune in power pop from the Smashing Pumpkins, “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)”.
The poetic song by songwriter, singer and band founder William Patrick Corgan, Jr., known as Billy Corgan, captures the same sense of a moment in time as the band’s “1979”. I like “Ghosts” better, however, for getting at the here and now. With a soft skip within a propulsive rhythm against Corgan’s distinctively nasal vocals, the reflective tune revolves around the question: “How long can this go on?”
That’s a legitimate question. Examining this theme of finiteness, Corgan’s “Ghosts” coasts with assurance in accounting for the cost of dodging contradictions. It glides without sneering.
“Ghosts” can be emotional, combining Smashing Pumpkins’ signature distortional guitar, invoked this time as part of a blaring call and response, with biting and thoughtful metaphors of tyrants, convicts, kingdoms, sirens and valentines. “Ghosts” ties into a kind of cry against the irrational — the halfway, the purgatory, the mixed — which speaks to these times. Corgan observes as if to himself that it’s mixed “signals that hurts me most … we’re in the middle / we’re in the middle, ghosts”. Like a middle-aged man, he notes that, when “someone dies tonight / it’s tragic / but at least it’s not you”.
To me, “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)” amounts to an explicit recognition of the ghoulish consequences of today’s prevalent evasion. In other words, it’s two minutes of pop rock which is perfect for right now.