MUSIC: A JOURNEY, NOT A JOYRIDE

WITH A SPRAWLING, GUTSY NEW ALBUM, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS CONFIRM THEIR PLACE AS ONE OF ROCK'S BEST YOUNG BANDS

ROCK PERFORMERS USED TO THINK big. In the '70s and '80s, groups like Led Zeppelin and Genesis turned songs into epics stretching for seven, eight, nine minutes. But for the past several years--in part influenced by Nirvana, whose visceral songs got much of their power from their brutal succinctness--many rockers have opted for brevity. Hot bands like Green Day and Foo Fighters turn out short, single-minded songs whose melodies, like newly announced presidential candidates, strive for instant likability. That's not necessarily a bad thing: blasting Weezer on your Walkman after a hard 9-to-5 or the Cranberries on your home stereo after...

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