Review Summary: Not the album that will solidify Puscifer among the ranks of Tool and A Perfect Circle, but it does prove that a future album of that caliber isn’t out of the question.
Puscifer releasing a new album has always been sort of a non-event to me. This isn’t intentionally disrespectful to Maynard James Keenan, it’s just that projects of his such as Tool, A Perfect Circle, hell – even his brief involvement in Deftones – have always seemed like a much bigger deal. Puscifer is typically an island of misfit ideas, and while entertaining, humorous, and at times accidentally profound, it’s never been anything worthy of a prominent role in Maynard’s illustrious music career. Perhaps that’s why it’s so surprising to see Puscifer as his go-to option right now, releasing more material in the past ten years than all of his other bands combined. While some of these efforts have been surprisingly brilliant (the 2009 EP C is for…
revealed this band’s epic ceiling), others have proven bafflingly simple or at times even futile. It just goes to show that you never really know what you’re going to get from Maynard these days, as he sits in his vineyard drinking le cortigiane oneste
, insulting his fan base and casually not giving a shit about what you think. Money Shot
is the perfect encapsulation of that attitude, simultaneously giving us some of his best and most idly pointless work to date.
tends to meander, and by that I mean there’s no distinct focal point throughout the entire experience. It drudges through sluggish tempos, dabbles in electronics, and sort of lulls you into this sense of ambivalence where everything and nothing seems to be going on at all the same time. In spurts, it can be downright gorgeous – such as in the prime cut ‘Grand Canyon’, which offers a picturesque, electronically-infused view of all things larger than life. The duet between Maynard and collaborating vocalist Carina Round balance the hypnotic rhythm and determined beat perfectly, giving the track a sense of atmospheric buoyancy that is nothing short of stunning. Then you have tracks such as ‘Galileo’, which establishes Money Shot
’s pace, and ‘Agostina’, which feels like the reuniting of souls: “infinity have many a faces…I see them all tonight in you…our intersection, our divine collision.” Certainly, when Money Shot
is firing on all cylinders, it has the capability to impress. This is never more true than it is on ‘The Remedy’ an aggressive number that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the album with lines like “yes we’re being condescending, yes that means we’re talking down to you” and “you speak like someone who has never been smacked in the fucking mouth; but that’s okay we have the remedy.” This brash approach offers old school Manyard fans everything that they’ve been clamoring for since Tool/A Perfect Circle, and leverages Money Shot
as an album capable of offering more than just meager, ambient wanderings.
The main problem is that instances like the ones listed above are gems within a mixed bag. An awful lot of this album is convoluted by songs that either feel out of place or simply drag on far beyond their welcome, causing Money Shot
to feel as though it is stuck in slow motion. ‘Simultaneous’ can most assuredly attest to this, featuring nearly seven minutes of spoken words amidst middling instrumentation. Sure, the semi-clever quip “We will never know world peace until three people can simultaneously look each other straight in the eye” is kind of cool, but that’s about the only redeeming factor of what is otherwise just faux intellectualism. That’s just part of the norm with Puscifer, though. Maynard loves fucking with people, and as the listener it’s up to you to decide what is brilliant and what is bullshit. Other songs, like the thin-stretched ‘Smoke and Mirors”, tend to just pass in one ear and out the other. To a large extent, Money Shot
is vocally dominated, so when Maynard isn’t absolutely killing it melodically/lyrically – or at least getting a stunning background harmony from Carina Round – the music suffers. That’s probably the album’s most disappointing trait, especially when you consider the instrumental complexity and inventiveness that we all know Mr. Keenan to be more than capable of.
– like past efforts – is a collection of hits and misses. It has moments of genius (‘Grand Canyon’, ‘The Remedy’) as well as questionable missteps (‘Simultaneous’). There is a tendency for this album to blend together into one homogeneous mass, which is due to a lack of diversity both in the songwriting approach and in the instrumental contributions. However, the peaks here are among Puscifer’s best, which should automatically put it on the radar for any dedicated Maynard fan. One thing that might fly under the radar is the growth in Puscifer’s sound since its inception all the way back in 2007 as a place to house rejected ideas. With ambient movements and fully enveloping alt-rock atmospheres, Maynard has managed to turn this into a legitimate, fully realized operation. Money Shot
isn’t the album that will solidify Puscifer among the ranks of Tool and A Perfect Circle, but it does prove that a future album of that caliber isn’t out of the question. Considering where this project began, that isn’t a bad place at all for Puscifer to be right now.