Review Summary: Keenan has plenty to say and once again displays his unparalled musicianship. In the process, he has also managed to establish Puscifer as a project worthy to stand alongside his other more lauded works.
Most people associate Maynard James Keenan with Tool, A Perfect Circle, or (maybe) Puscifer…and usually in that order. Puscifer has always been the project that lagged behind the other two in what Keenan himself admitted to be a project for “misfit ideas”. Puscifer’s debut “V is for Vagina” definitely fit that description, but had far more misses than it did hits. With the EP “C is for (Please Insert Sophomoric G******* Reference Here)”, Puscifer has created something even more unique than their debut, but with a much longer lasting impression.
The 6 song EP kicks off with “Polar Bear” which starts off with Maynard’s smooth vocals and some kind of a finger-snapping effect (also sounds like someone shaking a piggy bank…can’t quite make it out). An industrial techno beat is introduced around 2 minutes in, and it suddenly becomes a Trent Reznor/Maynard hybrid of sorts. Out of all the songs on this EP, this is the most similar to something you might hear from A Perfect Circle. “The Mission (M is for Milla Mix)” seems like it should be an instant favorite. It is undoubtedly the most catchy song on the album, with Maynard’s creepy utters of “what do you know!"” popping in and out of the pre-chorus. Milla Jovovich’s hoarse vocals manage to somehow make the song even more melodic, and the result is something absolutely, perfectly “misfit”.
The two middle tracks are actually live recordings (Alive at Club Nokia). However, the acoustics are so well tuned and the production is so amazing that they sound every bit as good, if not better, than a studio recording. The live atmosphere creates an experience that is much more intimate, as do the lyrics that accompany the songs:
“Mamma said life awaits
Like a kidney stone
It’s just a broken heart son
This pain will pass away”
Between “Momma Sed” and “V***** Mine”, Maynard James Keenan delivers arguably two of his best live vocal performances. This makes the album worth purchasing just for the pleasure that comes from replaying these two tracks over and over again, taking away something entirely new and beautiful from each successive listen.
“Potions” takes things in a more upbeat direction again, featuring a combination of rhythmic drumming and subtle techno backgrounds. Once again, there is a strong NIN vibe which comes from Reznor actually having a hand in the songwriting. The song builds and builds, and the last minute might be the best instrumental moment on the entire EP. “Potions” definitely continues the quality flow of the album and sets the stage for the closing ballad “The Humble River”. “The Humble River” gradually fades in with the haunting pound of a war drum before giving way to Maynard’s deepest and mos sincere lyrics yet:
“It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river
Nature nurture heaven and home
It’ll take a lot more than wars and gun
To conquer every mountain shown
The hands of many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river”
As the debut “V is for Vagina” showed us, one wouldn’t expect something so profound to come from an often light-hearted and sexually-vulgar side project like Puscifer. But then again that seems to be the calling card for this EP. It is an evolution in the life of Maynard James Keenan’s project, one that lends itself more to existential observations and revelations about humanity than it does crude references. This EP is a must-own for any Manyard fans and should at least warrant a serious listen for anyone else. On C is for (Please Insert Sophomoric G******* Reference Here)”, Keenan has plenty to say and once again displays his unparalled musicianship. In the process, he has also managed to establish Puscifer as a project worthy to stand alongside his other more lauded works.