Mary Star of the Sea

As it happens, Zwan measures up somewhat like Son of Smashing Pumpkins. Not that that’s a bad thing. After all, the band is fronted by former chief songwriter and singer for the Pumpkins, Billy Corgan ("Burke,” in the credits, undoubtedly after the actress who portrayed Glenda, the Good Witch of the North, in The Wizard of Oz). And Corgan’s songwriting chops on the group’s debut CD are as good as ever.

“Lyric” kicks things off with an almost Springsteenian sense of sonic scope, right down to the “Born to Run” high chimes in the background. Lyrically, Corgan maintains his generally bleak-yet-practical observations on life’s incongruities: “A lyric, a time/A crusade, a line … you never get out,” he croons, all ironic intent.

Other standouts: “Settle Down,” mostly because it could almost be a Pumpkins out-take; the acoustic guitar-driven arrangement of “Ride a Black Swan"; the moderate, riffing drive of “Baby Let’s Rock!"; and “Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea,” with its mantra-like chorus building on the word “Desire” and ascending on rising guitar chords.

All-in-all, not a bad little debut for Corgan’s new group.