How do you follow up a double disc of new music? If you’re the ever-overreaching Smashing Pumpkins, the answer is obvious: a five-disc package. Aeroplane Flies High collects the handful of EPs the band released in the last year, each containing a single from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and as many as six bonus tracks. Once again, the Pumpkins pull off the seemingly impossible. The 28-song Mellon Collie should have exhausted their repertoire, but Aeroplane is dotted with outtakes and B sides — the rumbly, prog-rock title track, riffy rockers like ”Transformer,” and ”Mouths of Babes,” Billy Corgan’s address to either his fans or his lover — that shouldn’t have been relegated to either slot.
Just as Mellon Collie proved a triumph of ambition, musicality, and emotional release over excess, the Aeroplane EPs are more than a dumping ground for demo tapes and studio rejects; each is organized into loose yet coherent thematic bunches. On Tonight, Tonight and 1979, Corgan and James Iha pay their respects to sensitive-’70s pop with poignant, softly strummed slacker ballads (Corgan’s steeped in sentimentality, self-loathing, and self-doubt, Iha’s in head-over-platform-shoes sunniness). Bullet With Butterfly Wings is the only weak link; its new-wave covers (of songs by the Cars, the Cure, and Blondie among them) are so dry that the music’s bounce seems to have been surgically removed. The Aeroplane Flies High is a musical postscript — the ultimate holiday treat for Corgan-heads — but other bands would smash more than pumpkins to have leftovers this savory. B+