I think if most intense music fans were asked to name one of the most vocally talented rock musicians, a few names would almost always come up. Jeff Buckley, Bjork, and the psychopath responsible for Peeping Tom, Mike Patton. Patton has an extremely lengthy history in music beginning in the ‘80s with two very important musical acts, one being the forefather of “rap-rock", Faith No More who most people know due to their extremely popular hit, “Epic". The other band and the band Patton is mostly recognized for being a genius in is the genre slaughtering army of Mr. Bungle. While Faith No More favored more stereotypical song structure, Mr. Bungle was far more experimental and often would run through nearly three separate genres in every song they created. The band’s opus, “California" is seen by most as their perfect record, and I have a tendency to agree. Since, “California’s" release in 1999, Patton has been concentrating on much heavier and avant garde projects (Fantomas and other experiments with Tzadik head, John Zorn) that lack the quirky pop sensibility that made Mr. Bungle so memorable. But all of that changed, when Patton’s five year project based in the genre of pop finally announced its release to an eager audience of loyal fans. Peeping Tom is a return to what made Patton an interesting but successful star in the underground music scene.
While, Peeping Tom is defined as Mike Patton’s pop experiment, it certainly isn’t the type of pop the average music listener is comfortable with. Combining genres and a superstar cast of guests ranging from Dan the Automator, to Norah Jones, Patton is able to create a bizarre sound that only his group of starlet misfits could produce. The album starts off with the hip hop centered “Five Seconds" that clearly shows us this album isn’t going to be one of Fantomas’ experiments in noise. The song is the catchiest thing since the doo-wop opener of “California", and it’s an excellent way to start of the album and lead way into the Middle Eastern tainted single “Mojo". “Mojo" is Dan the Automator’s track and it shows in a way, but it certainly isn’t similar to any of the things the Automator is known for (Dr. Octagon). While mentioning Dr. Octagon, it’d probably be important to note the song “Getaway" which is basically a typical rap song, with Patton voicing the chorus, and Kool Keith fronting the verses. The spacey effects of “Getaway" and the bridge Patton “sings" for himself are what help make the song different from the average rap song, and a lot more interesting vehicle for Kool Keith to deliver his lines in. “Kill the DJ" shows Massive Attack and Patton’s experiment in a dance track and the excellently titled “Sucker" is what seems to be an attempt to create a extremely sexual “jazz" song with singer Norah Jones. The eclectic range of sounds on this album is excellent and really adds to its replay value, as well as the cast of extremely talented musician’s ability to share their various expertises with Patton’s unique vocal ability.
While Peeping Tom is an eclectic pop album, its lack of emotion and bland middle section do harm it’s rating as a better album than previous Patton works. Like most pop music, Patton falls into the problem of sacrificing relation to his audience for hooks. Songs like “Your Neighborhood Spaceman" just seem bland, and for the sake of writing, rather than actual works of art from a talented artist. This blandness isn’t seen all over the album, the closer “We Are Alone" is an excellent example of how Patton has the ability to shed some personal insight into his songs, it’s just the middle section of the album seems to drag with bland rehashes of boring ideas. This may be because of the lesser known, and less talented artists that are featured in songs like “Caiprianha" and “Celebrity Death Match", or as I think it is probably due to the fact that Patton was just looking for filler to complete the album. This project has been in the works for five years, and according to Ipecac (Peeping Tom’s label) “three albums worth of material have been recorded" so Patton could have the desire to spread out the best tracks in a gimmick to make more evenly matched albums. Whatever is the case, the album certainly drags at points and loses itself in mediocrity which is disappointing to something that could’ve been so excellent.
All in all, Peeping Tom is a solid pop album. While not as revolutionary or as interesting as Patton’s previous works, it is a good album and a unique experience. If more pop artists were willing to take steps into this kind of pop, the mainstream music scene may be a lot more interesting and entertaining. Sadly, we need a vocal guru, whose main work consists of “metalesque" projects, to get bored with his projects and make an original pop album. Still, Patton mostly succeeds in his job of creating an entertaining and interesting listen, and hopefully volume two of Peeping Tom can better this album’s quality or at least match it.
At first I disliked this album because I found myself comparing it to other Patton albums. Once I stopped comparing and actually let the album sink in it is actually a very enjoyable listen. Great work on the review.
I haven't really listened to it in a while, but I do remember that it had a nice mix of mainstream styled music with Patton's signature quirkiness, which was cool. The only problem was that nothing stood out to me, I've had no reason to listen to this very often.
how can i hate hiphop with a passion? maybe by finding that i dont like the majority of hiphop, and find the lyrics shallow and pathetic. just my opinion, i'm not forcing you to agree with me STLMiguel.