Martha's Music / Reprise - 2003 - 65 minutes

A great drummer, a bassist who should get more to do and a guitarist - or two - who could be living in the frontman's shadow. The similarities in personnel between Billy Corgan's new band and his old one, Smashing Pumpkins, may be purely coincidental, but they're harder to shake off once you spend some time with '…Star of the Sea'.

The idea that guitarist David Pajo and ex A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin would lead Corgan, buddy Matt Sweeney and former Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain to offbeat territory proves unfounded because Zwan's sound is nothing if not familiar. What this album does however - and at times beautifully - is highlight Corgan's pop-rock sensibility.

As befits a man who penned such lines as 'I am yours alone' and 'Who wouldn't be the one you love', Zwan finds him basking in a sound that's upbeat, summery and glowing with possibilities. 'Yeah!' and 'El Sol' stand up with the best of Corgan's work like '1979' and 'Perfect' and while the presence of three guitarists means plenty of solos, the only excess on the album is the 15-minute penultimate track.

Recalling all the things that ever grated about Corgan, it fits with nothing else on the album and will leave you convinced that the winged graphic on the cover is called 'Freebird'. The fact that it's the one song written by the quintet together might leave you with some concerns about the benefits of democracy, but the spirit of the rest of the album says that if Corgan lets Zwan grow as a group, he could have the band the 'Pumpkins always had the potential to be.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Lyric - Settle Down - Declarations of Faith - Honestly - El Sol - Of a Broken Heart - Ride a Black Swan - Heartsong - Endless Summer - Baby Let's Rock! - Yeah! - Desire - Jesus, I / Mary Star of the Sea - Come With Me