Poetic lyrics, eloquent concept, meaningful song titles, atmospheric production at times... but guess what... it can be for casual listeners as well!
This is what managed to strike me the most: how the majority of the songs were so instant. A perfect example is the opener ‘The Hollow’. From the first listen, I adored this song; with anthem-esque guitar hooks and a concise build, it was a pleasant surprise to not have the expected sentiment “I-don’t-know-if-I-really-like-it-until-I-hear-it-1000-times” which ultimately proves that this creation is by no means a Tool Mark II.
It’s Maynard’s distinctive lyricism-vocalism combination that passionately paints the primary picture for A Perfect Circle. His immortal phrase “I don’t want to feel this overwhelming hostility” on the fifth track ‘Orestes’ is portrayed with modest ambition, a rare trait for a vocalist. He also manages to further balance contradictory emotions on ‘3 Libras’ in which he sounds disciplined yet unchained and liberated. His emotive reputation is significantly justified with ‘Brena’ as well, possibly the most expressive tune on this release.
It is not simply Maynard’s influence that epitomises the group’s sound, however. Billy Howerdel’s guitar can range from simplistic, stadium-anthem status (‘The Hollow’, ‘Magdalena’ and ‘Judith’) to a soft, acoustic lull (‘3 Libras’, ‘Rose’ and ‘Renholder’) while still retaining enough originality. My personal favourite is the solo nearing the end of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ which is an album highlight, strengthening with repeated listens, yet still providing enough interest upon first impression. The drums are also modest and crucial, as they provide irregular beats on a regular basis. The simplistic and trouble-free piano on the final track, appropriately named ‘Over’, is beyond what any potential complex rhythm can achieve in terms of effectiveness. The string sections on a handful of songs also intricately decorate the delicious cherry on the top of this enchanting pudding.
However, this particular pudding can appear very calorific to some; as those who dislike the post-grunge recipe may not click with this record and find solace in another gastronomic outlet. The track ‘Renholder’ comes across as uninspired, especially being placed straight after another acoustically-opened song, and this song’s dull factor begins after around 30 seconds. This track also seemingly only made it onto the album as a means of attempting to build upon a spiritualistic notion (concept over substance, perhaps?). A couple of tracks also appear to run out of momentum around half way through, such as the song ‘Thomas’ and ‘Thinking of You’, although the latter boasts an impressive melody at times.
Overall, this release still results in a promising debut. All the ingredients are existent with room for future potential, which was exemplified with their 2003 follow-up ‘Thirteenth Step’. While not for everyone who’s a fan of rock music, the general talent within the group will live on and inspire masses, this album is a statement that rock music will live on through the millennium!