*Every week I’ll tell you my thoughts on my new release, sometimes more than one. This week, rock supergroup A Perfect Circle releases their first album in fourteen years and it’s predictably, amazing.

Here’s the album*

A Perfect Circle - Eat the Elephant

Fourteen years. Depending on your stance on cover albums it has been fourteen years since Maynard James Keenan’s most sonically palatable project has released a new album. Since A Perfect Circle’s absence we've seen rises and falls of whole genres of music but now the wait is over. The two geniuses who formed the band have aligned their busy schedules to bring us new music to shove into our earholes and enjoy.

Tensions with co-writer Billy Howerdel seemed to rise on the band's sophomore album Thirteenth Step due to Keenan’s preference for a softer sound. Keenan did not want to keep band’s sound the same because he felt it might end up a simple regurgitation of themselves. If those tensions were genuine I can’t imagine how they must have exploded on the sessions leading up to Eat the Elephant. In an interview with Lars Ulrich for It’s Electric, on Beats1, Keenan tells a hopefully exaggerated story in which, upon first listening to the music for the album, he told Howerdel “That’s great, take that, mute it, play it on the piano, put a drum beat behind it and let’s see what you got.” The really funny thing is when you listen to Eat the Elephant you will see that may have been what he did.

The title track starts off the album with a more somber sound then they are known for. As stated to before, a simple piano and drum beat and when Maynard’s vocals come in, it’s just beautiful. That is not typically a adjective one would use to describe a rock album but this is not a typical rock band. The album’s second track Disillusioned never strays to far from that same muted sound and your start to think, "Is this A Perfect Circle now?" It’s not a bad thing, this more subdued version of A Perfect Circle is an interesting step forward in the maturity of their sound. They also branch out and play with a few different styles; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is reminiscent of Muse with Maynard’s vocals. There are plenty of rock breaks interspersed throughout songs that remind you who you are listening to and their talents.

One thing that makes this album great is on a whole it is unpredictable musically. For instance on Disillusioned when they are getting harder near 4:35 they cut to silence except for some reverb before ending on the same solemn tone that started the song. Another example[1] on The Contrarian, if you have grown up listening to Maynard’s music you might expect right after he drops the line “the contrarian” at 1:07 something hard to kick in but instead it’s just a ringing piano. They’re all older and different and this progression makes so much sense for them.

Lyrically Keenan is just as politically and socially charged as ever. In what is becoming a trend among new releases he laments the state of consciousness in our society becoming increasing addicted to our technology.

”Time to put the silicon obsessions down”

He sings a reverse beatitude that rings of terrible truths in our trying times

"Doomed are the poor,
Doomed are the peaceful,
Doomed are the meek,
Doomed are the merciful"

He calls out the hypocritical people of faith who do not understand or practice what they preach

"Sit and talk like Jesus,
Try walking like Jesus"

This is an album that needs to be listened to with some good headphones at some point. They once again ratchet up the atmospheric qualities of their music. The layered vocals add a whole new dimension to the songs but they don’t feel as forceful or present on smaller speakers. Throughout the album you hear MJK's voice peocessed and played a ton of different ways, it seems very influed by Puscifer, another Keenan project. This is most apparent on “Hourglass” that starts with a vocal EQed to only mids and moves to him singing layered vocals in different timbres at the same time and duets with robotic qualities. On Eat the Elephant rarely do we hear Maynard’s legendary growl which makes it that much more special the few times it does appear.

Though this album was long awaited it is completely unexpected. It has a sense of familiarity of the band we knew all those years ago and somehow it seems even after all the time apart that they have been together this whole time and matured as a group. It’s always great to see a band evolve and grow and listening from Mer de Noms to this that growth has be prettt drastic.

J. Cole - KOD

Just listen to it. It’s so good if you are a fan you’ve already heard it by now, isn’t it so good? If you’re not, you will be. He’s a true poet of a generation. Since he took so long between releases last time it’s surprising how quickly this came out especially because of how good it is. There’s a lot of bad rap in the world but artists like J.Cole making music like this make it worth suffering through all the Lil Pumps out there.

  1. Just a little sample ↩︎