Eat The Elephant by A Perfect CircleRelease date: April 20, 2018
What does a band do after not releasing music in 16 years? Try to re-hash what was successfully done before (Mer de Noms,Thirteenth Step)? Or move forward (perhaps disappointing some older fans that were expecting something similar to what was done in the past)? Or balance old and new? Either way, it is an extremely risky move.
Some hardcore fans will claim bands should remain faithful to the same style and limit experimentation. We also know experimentation can sometimes fall flat (Dredg’s Chuckles & Mister Squeezy and Metallica’s St. Anger come to mind) but they can also pay off. Without experimentation or the urge to break boundaries, the Deftones would not have released White Pony or Cave In would not have released Jupiter (just to name a couple of examples). Nor would we say and hear bands invent new and fresh genres.
In these last 16 years, the two main minds of A Perfect Circle have been quite busy. Billy Howerdel released an album with Ashes Divide, was involved in engineering for Sweethead’s self-titled album and also in the digital editing of Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy. Maynard James Keenan was a part of the release of 3 Puscifer albums, had his new business ventures to worry about, and dedicated himself heavily to winemaking.
I have to confess that so many years later, I was eagerly waiting for this and was excited to press play. And so I did. Soon I was assured that A Perfect Circle still generally sound distinctly like themselves. It’s still melancholic, dark, guitar packed and full of the cerebral and snarky lyrics that Maynard got us used to.
Before Eat The Elephant was released, I had already listened to four songs: ‘Disillusioned’, ‘The Doomed’, ‘TalkTalk’ and ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’. These four tracks give me a good general idea of what to expect and a sense of what direction they were heading, but I was eager to listen to the rest. ‘Disillusioned’ has a very soft and delicate melody, ‘The Doomed’ brings in some heaviness with a marching riff, ‘TalkTalk’ kind of reminds me of ‘Pet’ from Thirteenth Step and ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’ doesn’t sound like your typical A Perfect Circle song off the bat but is brilliant nonetheless. Heartbreaking chorus with mentions of artists and characters who passed. Killer melody, making something sad sound happy.
I was really curious about the other tracks I didn’t know and ended up being pleasantly surprised by ‘By and Down the River’ and ‘Delicious’. Two solid straight up classic A Perfect Circle tracks with all the best you can expect from the band: great melody, emphasis on the guitar lines and licks and great vocals. On the more surprising side, ‘Hourglass’ is probably the album’s most experimental track. It’s less rocky and more electronic. robotic vocals, still dark vibes. In a weird way it reminds me of Nine Inch Nails. The two tracks I need to give more time to are oddly the last two and slower songs: ‘Feather’ slower track ‘Get the Lead Out’. I still don’t know what to feel about them after multiple listens.
In conclusion, I feel A Perfect Circle didn’t release the best album of their career but they released what they wanted and what they felt was right at this time. The final result is a good balance of their distinct and cemented sound while trying to add even more dimensions, details and influences. As a major fan of Mer de Noms and Thirteenth Step, I was not even slightly disappointed. I sure hope we don’t have to wait another 16 years for some new music. If we do, I just hope it’s at least this good!