Album Review: Eat the Elephant by A Perfect Circle
Fairly Good, Based on 7 Critics
Sputnikmusic - 80 Based on rating 4.0/5
A Perfect Circle drop their long-awaited fourth album, a cohesive and atmospheric rock record with ambitious lyrical themes and a superb vocal performance by Maynard James Keenan.
When society goes through trying times, art has an increased potential to provoke and make people think. While not a wholly political record, Eat the Elephant touches on broad, relevant themes of corruption by those in power, mass isolation, and the recent deaths of beloved artists like Robin Williams and Prince. There is a dry sense of humor that appears at times, particularly in "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" and "Delicious." This wisely keeps things from getting too heavy, being the most accessible A Perfect Circle release so far.
After 14 years of silence, alt-metal supergroup A Perfect Circle returned with Eat the Elephant. Previously active on 2004's antiwar eMOTIVe -- when the U.S. was embroiled in a different state of social upheaval -- they re-emerged in 2018 at another pivotal time with just as much to say. While much transpired in their absence, A Perfect Circle evolved, addressing government shifts, technological advances, and social deterioration in a manner befitting of frontman Maynard James Keenan, who delivers some of the most wickedly barbed lyrics of his career.
To download, click "Share" and right-click the download icon | iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: Fourteen years after their last record together, Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle reunite for a record of bruised social criticism that continues the political streak started by 2004’s anti-war covers record, Emotive. The Good: Instead of attempting to recapture the orchestral alt-rock that made the band famous, Eat the Elephant opts for a pensive collection of songs driven as much by Howerdel’s piano heroics as his facility with a guitar. The record also provides a cathartic outlet for Keenan’s more-direct-than-ever frustrations; whether targeted at feckless leaders (“TalkTalk”) or smartphone addicts (“Disillusioned”), his rage is righteous and powered by some of the prettiest pure singing of his entire catalog.
Fourteen years is a long time. The era in which A Perfect Circle released their last album was one in which Mark Zuckerberg was still in short trousers, Facebook just a glint in his eye; Donald Trump's ambitions extended to the relatively contained blast radius of the Emmy Awards, and guitar music still reigned supreme. Fast forward nearly a decade-and-a-half and the musical landscape has changed immensely, even if Billy Howerdel's art metal supergroup for the most part haven't: grinding bass and sizzling delayed guitar lines are still predominantly the name of the game on long-awaited fourth album Eat the Elephant, even if the advancing years have seen the band's ferocity muted somewhat.
A Perfect Circle took 14 years between releasing 2004's eMOTIVe and this year's Eat the Elephant, though the time away did little to break the thematic similarities between albums. The former was a collection of anti-war cover songs pieced together in a post-9/11 world, while the latter has arrived with its lens fixed firmly fixed on politics in a much different society, with a much different leader in office.
These larger social changes go hand in hand with A Perfect Circle's own sonic shift. Co-founder Billy Howerdel's piano does much ….
Maynard James Keenan knows he's kept you waiting, and he's not sorry in the slightest. The singer crafted Eat the Elephant, A Perfect Circle's first record in 14 years, according to the same principles as his self-run winery and restaurant in rural Arizona: time, investment, focus, presence. In a recent Revolver interview, Keenan compared himself to an Italian mother cooking up family dinner slowly and painstakingly, hungry children be damned.
Maynard Keenan: winemaker, Brazilian jiujitsu enthusiast, creator of numerous Tool songs longer than some hardcore albums–these are pastimes that require far more patience than the average man can muster. One shouldn't hold it against the not-so-average men who don't have the time, money and self-selective personality traits to see this stuff to fruition. But in Maynard's view, that's exactly what's wrong with you damn kids – failing to recognize the irony of criticizing our "silicon obsession" in an online publication called Stuff , Keenan complains that unprecedented access to information hasn't empowered marginalized communities, but rather " fostered this generation of novice experts who have the power to open their mouths but haven't actually put the work into knowing what they're talking about.