Review Summary: The cover album that could have been...
It really is a shame that the masterpiece that was Thirteenth Step got followed up by this. For it to be followed with a mediocre cover album with an anti-war message is absolutely absurd. Emotive is basically the hint that the band would go on a long and painful hiatus. Therefore as one could imagine(no pun intended), this record as a whole is almost completely devoid of the talent and passion that made their first two records worthwhile. However, the album’s first half features four beacons of hope that are worth listening to and they are all top notch A Perfect Circle quality. The strange thing is, this album really could have been something special, but all of the album's fantastic ideas are all crammed into a streak of four songs.
With the exception of Annihilation, which is Maynard mundanely whispering to his throughout the song, tracks two through five are all amazing tracks that are all prime examples of how a cover can totally re-imagine a song as if it is their own. Imagine is a chilling reinterpretation of John Lennon’s desire for a better world where world peace dominated war and greed. A Perfect Circle’s version strives to preach to us that this type of world could never be achieved due to the cold hard fact of human nature through bleak piano melodies and strings. To build on this song is Peace Love and Understanding. This soothing song is essentially expressing how horrible this fact is through Billy’s gentle vocal delivery and a repeated atmospheric acoustic guitar riff and sound effects. Believe it or not the album gets even better with the next two songs.
Once What’s Going On starts you will be immediately mesmerized and in a trance. It is an astoundingly beautiful look at all the families in turmoil as a result of war and loss. Maynard and Billy have perfect chemistry as they both convey the sad lyrics through soft whispers and falsettos. The highlight of this song is without a doubt the euphoric guitar riffs scattered throughout and they really make you feel. However, the euphoria halts as Passive begins. Maynard gives one of his best performances over perfect compositions by Billy’s part. The climax of the show is also exhilarating. Sadly, everything after these songs “***ing disappoints me.”
It’s safe to say that the album takes a nasty trip down the stairs in the second half and never manages to get back up again. Gimme Gimme Gimme surprisingly manages to accomplish nothing more than annoy you as Maynard delivers strange and out of place growls. People Are People only builds on the annoyance with cringe worthy “la la la’s” and very plain keyboard melodies. Freedom of Choice is the only glimmer of hope in the final half with Billy singing an infectiously catchy chorus and some solid guitar riffs. After listening to Passive, at just comes off as very plain unfortunately.
As the album draws to a close, it really pains me to say that nothing is done right. Let’s Have A War and When The Levee Breaks only manage to make you fall asleep because they both never climax at any point and the vocal deliveries are lackluster. The funny thing is, A Perfect Circle actually made an attempt to cover one of their own songs, Pet. Unfortunately Counting Bodies does not do the masterful song any justice whatsoever. Counting Bodies is a heavily electronic version of Pet and trust me, this sound is as awful as I described it. Thankfully the album ends on a somewhat high note with some solid vocal harmonies in Fiddle and the Drum, but strangely enough, there is no music in the song which makes it extremely underwhelming.
Well, damn. Emotive is one of the biggest misfires of all time considering what it is following up. All A Perfect Circle fans deserved so much more than a lackluster cover album. Though it has a few amazing songs on it, the rest of the record only brings those songs down. Listen to tracks two through five of this record, but avoid the rest at all costs.