Rock history attests that performers from many great bands were never able to make a memorable solo record -- think Mick Jagger, for starters. Former Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan must now be added to that dubious list, based on his first solo disc, ''TheFutureEmbrace," in stores today.
Once an avatar of the modern-rock explosion, Corgan has been a bewildering satellite ever since the Pumpkins broke up in 2000. He misfired with electric-rock act Zwan. And he released a book of poetry last fall, ''Blinking With Fists," that had its moments but was frequently self-indulgent.
Sadly, most of ''The FutureEmbrace" is a disjointed mess. The new single, ''Walking Shade," is misleading because it's not just the best song on the album, it's one of the few with a pulse. Corgan has slipped into a drowsy state of stupefaction, making a record draped in slow-motion electronica. He's trying to sing about love, but he's doing it among some of the most depressing soundscapes that you'll hear this year, with clanging synths and distortion static in the background. He has cited David Bowie's ''Low" as an inspiration, but this is no ''Low." Instead, it could be a low point in Corgan's career. He tries hard to be experimental, but ends up in a numbing free fall.
The biggest oddity is a cover of the Bee Gees' ''To Love Somebody." It is strange enough that Corgan opted for such a choice, but it's just plain bizarre that he changes the key from major to minor and makes it sound so dreary. He invited Robert Smith of the Cure to sing along on it, but it's not likely to be a highlight for him, either.
As for the original songs, there is food for thought in the lyrics of ''The Cameraeye" (about the glare of the media). On ''Mina Loy (M.O.H.)," the M.O.H. stands for ''my old heart," and its theme is ''I'm not so innocent now." Fine, but why then add the verse, ''The end's in sight/ We're born to die 1,000 times"? Corgan often overdoes it to the point of exasperation. He dedicates the album ''to all those people who believe in the path of love," but it's hard to join him there.