A PERFECT CIRCLE
EAT THE ELEPHANT
One of the three bands that vocalist Maynard James Keenan is best known for, A Perfect Circle
has been consistent in their sound throughout their 13 years of existence. The lineup, ever
changing, has been able to keep this feat thanks to the musical compositions of guitarist Billy
Howerdel and vocal melodies/lyrics from Keenan. The band is a supergroup, currently consisting
of guitarist James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins, bassist Matt McJunkins, drummer Jeff Friedl.
McJunkins and Friedl have also been contributors to the Puscifer and Ashes Divide projects. Eat
The Elephant has been APC’s latest record since their last one, 14 years ago. It satisfied many
fans, including myself, and I immediately started listening to the new record. The reason it took
so long, was that Keenan (in an interview with Lars Ulrich from Metallica in Beats 1 On Apple
Music) was busy with other projects. Howerdel was also busy, but Keenan at least tried to
release stuff with Puscifer. He joked that if he was going to make another Puscifer album,
someone might “sneak inside his bedroom and slit his throat while he was asleep”.
Eat The Elephant
So Long And Thanks For All The Fish
By And Down By The River
Get The Lead Out
One of the many problems any band has is a common ground, especially when members
each have different ideas of what direction to take. After their first album Mer De Noms, Keenan
was afraid of becoming redundant and desired to be more mellow and emotional with following
releases. Howerdel, however, wanted a harder rock sound. Eat The Elephant definitely has both
tones, however, there was a lack of harder songs on the album, that made the album more
impactful in my opinion. The album themes drop heavily on modern societal, religious, and political issues, but also drops on grappling the death of others around you, both close and not.
The album starts with the title track, immediately showing that the whole work will be under a raincloud. “Eat The Elephant”, for some reason, gives me a mellow jazzy feel, most likely because of the drumming of this song. “Disillusioned” is one of my favorites off the album. Discussing with a friend, the song is about our obsession with instant gratification, and dependence on cellphones and mobile devices. This song really resonates with us today, and is a song that is broad enough within its lyrics to mean another obsession in our society in the future. The song breaks tempo twice, both times for the chorus, giving it a lot of strength. “The Contrarian” can feel like a part two to the last song, if you aren’t paying attention. The transition is very smooth and the song builds up to the guitar solo and comes back down. It feels like one is trying to get the same rage and anger from the first album, but it can’t because it’s been done. One is tired from this anger already, and even if the same problem that makes us angry everytime is still there, you’re just done. Another favorite of mine on this album is “The Doomed”, with themes regarding inequality in wealth and society. This is one of the heavier songs off the album, hence why I enjoyed it a lot. Its position in the album is a good break from moody atmosphere, but also helps you appreciate the previous tracks. “The Doomed” also still contains the same atmosphere, but it’s just angrier overall. “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish” may seem like a waste of space for a song, but it alludes to the deaths of Gene Wilder, David Bowie, Muhammed Ali, and Carrie Fisher. That enough helps me appreciate the undertones of this piece. I would definitely say it feels out of place to the whole vibe it had.
“TalkTalk” is yet again another favorite off this album. With a theme about hypocrites who talk big and holy but don’t actually do anything to help, this is the perfect picture of the United States in within the last few years. This is a song you would want to hear first if you were only interested in singles off an album. The next song is an alternate version of the original, from APC’s Greatest Hits album. “By And Down The River” doesn’t differ that much from the 2013 version, but I do very much prefer this version. This song contains one of the most memorable riffs of the album, and a favorite bass line. One of the more lighthearted tracks, “Delicious” is not the break you needed from the overall vibe, but it’s an enjoyable track with an excellent guitar solo. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the heavier songs. Just when you think you’re in for more of the song, it abruptly stops and a piano interlude called “DLB” starts. It goes on for about 2 minutes, but it’s a nice interlude, even if I was disappointed about “Delicious” ending how it did. “Hourglass” is very reminiscent of older APC tracks, and be either a hit-or-miss song, depending on if you don’t mind some of the electronic voiceovers, and weird harmonies. It’s like Daft Punk helped APC with the chorus on this song! The ending chords the guitar and bass play remind me of “Sober” by Tool, the main band Keenan’s work is most known. At this point, the next song “Feathers” is
a filler song, that’s still a pretty good track in its own right, but the album’s vibe is overwhelmed
at this point. The end begins with “Get The Lead Out”. The piano’s dying tone sets a nice aesthetic, and I’d say this is the most experimental song off the album, as it changes a minute in, maintaining the same aesthetic. It continues with a nice steady pulse, then fades out after 5 more minutes.
This was by far the most mellow A Perfect Circle ever was, and they pulled it off
excellently. I have never related to an album so much recently like this one. This album has
made me relive the past few years as an American, with all the school shootings and hypocrisy in
the country. Those feelings were relived within this album. Even if you aren’t an American, or
don’t understand what I mean, you will still feel something with this album. This is one of my
favorite A Perfect Circle albums and even if I really miss the harsher tones they had back then,
their sound is ever-changing and evolving into something better, step by step. I give Eat The
Elephant an 8/10… and I was honestly thinking a lower score for this album before listening
entirely, due to just the singles. This is why we listen to the album as a whole to be able to
understand the artist and the art!
For more info:
Maynard James Keenan – lead vocals
Billy Howerdel – lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
James Iha – rhythm guitar, keyboards (Did not play on the album)
Matt McJunkins – bass, backing vocals
Jeff Friedl – drums