A Perfect Circle
Eat the Elephant


4.0
excellent

Review

by Benjamin Kuettel STAFF
April 20th, 2018 | 962 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A Perfect Circle drop their long-awaited fourth album, a cohesive and atmospheric rock record with ambitious lyrical themes and a superb vocal performance by Maynard James Keenan.

When society goes through trying times, art has an increased potential to provoke and make people think. While not a wholly political record, Eat the Elephant touches on broad, relevant themes of corruption by those in power, mass isolation, and the recent deaths of beloved artists like Robin Williams and Prince. There is a dry sense of humor that appears at times, particularly in "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" and "Delicious." This wisely keeps things from getting too heavy, being the most accessible A Perfect Circle release so far. The space rock atmospheres of Thirteenth Step are present, and Eat the Elephant still feels like A Perfect Circle, but acts as an effective evolution of their prior releases from the early 2000s.

The covers album eMOTIVe is thankfully no longer the group's final studio release. While not the trainwreck many said it was, the project was misguided from the start. It came across as an attempt at a rousing protest album for the Bush era. However, it was comprised of cover songs by artists like John Lennon and Joni Mitchell, with the only original material being a remix from Thirteenth Step and a great b-side, "Passive." eMOTIVe drew a polarized response by fans and succeeded in reaching a Rattle & Hum by U2 level of pretentiousness. And like U2 did, A Perfect Circle needed to take a knee and reevaluate. After a few years, work on Eat the Elephant began. After so long a wait, it feels like an album that needed the time it took to be made. A wide range of emotions are covered, from thinly veiled anger in "The Doomed," to quieter piano-centric moments, to various styles of alternative rock.

For an album as sprawling as this, the flow of each track leading into one another is perfect, lending a concept-album feeling while exploring a vast range of topics. While still being personal, the record is more extroverted and topical than the brand of music usually released by songwriters Billy Howerdel and Maynard James Keenan. Keenan outdoes himself as a vocalist, with his versatile singing being a highlight throughout. Howerdel handles most of the instrumental duties, laying down all kinds of 90s alt. rock guitar riffs and spacier melodies as well. "Feathers" in particular sounds like a blissful extension of Thirteenth Step. For all the strengths Eat the Elephant has, one can’t help but feel that the drumming performance could have been more dynamic and technical at times. Still, the tone changes frequently, so having some consistent elements like similar rhythms and drumming keeps everything grounded.

Eat the Elephant feels epic and diverse. Keenan implores humanity to reconnect with one another in somber album highlight “Disillusioned,” shames those who benefit from social and wealth inequality in “The Doomed” and "Delicious," and generally ponders how we got to where we are as a country and a society. This can’t help but feel like the effective protest album that was attempted in eMOTIVe. The candid global themes of last year's To the Bone by Steven Wilson is brought to mind, as the silver lining to the dismal state of current events is how compelling modern rock artists can be in funneling their emotions and craft into making excellent music like this.

Eat the Elephant is engaging, atmospheric rock done right with intelligent lyrics and ambitious themes. From the more straightforward, energetic "TalkTalk" to the chilled out, Massive Attack-esque closer "Get the Lead Out," varied songwriting is alive and well in 2018. Even if socially, as the lyrics will express, there is a lot that needs to be changed. Those who understand Keenan and Howerdel know that the art comes first, and Eat the Elephant does not exist to solely make more money and play to the nostalgia of previous success. There is an effective balance of being just similar enough to the first two releases while also entering new, adventurous territory. Whether or not this is a new beginning or a long-awaited farewell is unknown. In the end, the wait was worth it to hear a fantastic band return with relevance and maturity. A Perfect Circle are not living in the past; they've chosen to look forward and evolve while asking all of us to do the same, as we are meant to do.



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user ratings (411)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2018


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Album is released today, and should be available on all the main platforms. Now how about that new Tool album Maynard..

But in all seriousness, this is really great. Still can't really get past that cover though, so for those interested here's an alternative one someone posted on the Thirteenth Step thread (combine both lines, they’re separated to keep the page normal):

https://www.reddit.com/r/freshalbumart/comments/

a_perfect_circle_eat_the_elephant_2500x2500/

Digging: Sigur Ros - Route One

Papa Universe
April 20th 2018


16026 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

"a cohesive and atmospheric rock record with ambitious lyrical themes and a superb vocal performance"

good one, talon

Digging: Petrojvic Blasting Company - Over the Garden Wall

Thrust!
April 20th 2018


3711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Someone wake me up when the new Tool album is released

Digging: Nyn - Entropy: Of Chaos and Salt

PostMesmeric
April 20th 2018


724 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

God, I love the track "Feathers."

teamster
April 20th 2018


2850 Comments


Here we go...putting the kevlar on...

Digging: Finnr's Cane - Elegy

BrushedRed
April 20th 2018


2717 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

This sucks (the album, not your review). Opening track and Feathers are really good. Can’t say the same for the rest though.

Digging: Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Darius
April 20th 2018


16303 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Incoming compostcompote review

Digging: Loma Prieta - I.V.

Toondude10
April 20th 2018


12867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

this rules



the fact that the new TesseracT album is on the trending list and not this makes me sad

Digging: Monuments - The Amanuensis

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2018


17571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah Feathers is an album highlight, I just added a sentence about it in the review.

TheSpaceMan
April 20th 2018


11353 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Seriously wtf is that cover

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 20th 2018


27015 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

My two biggest gripes with this are the pacing (not enough heavier rock songs, I need at least one "Pet" to keep things lively) and the ordering (I could, and will, easily create a better-flowing tracklist...it's one of the few things I heavily disagree with from this review - which is great btw). Otherwise, there are few bad songs...mostly decent with a small handful of absolute gems (The Doomed, TalkTalk, Feathers, Get The Lead Out). It's pretty much on par with the other APC albums, no better or worse - which is to say it's definitely worthwhile.

Digging: Wild Pink - Yolk in the Fur

JasonCarne
April 20th 2018


969 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

What the hell happened to this band. Top 5 worst album covers of the decade too.

Digging: Cornelius - Fantasma

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 20th 2018


27015 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

yeah the album cover is a 0.5, not that it matters at all

just think, if we can get this into BNM we'll get to see it on the front page for months to come ;-)

coldheaven
April 20th 2018


4275 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like this album, but "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" is just a really odd and out of place track to me.

Digging: Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

neekafat
April 20th 2018


10897 Comments


Excited to check this along with the rest of their work
but yeah album cover sucks [1000000]

JJKeys
April 20th 2018


962 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Hatework
April 20th 2018


132 Comments


Album cover is a pile of fucking goatshit.

Good lord, makes me want to dismiss the album entirely.

DropTune
April 20th 2018


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Don't judge a book by its cover *especially* if it's written by MJK.

PistolPete
April 20th 2018


4739 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

APC released a lot of great music back in the day but “Disillusioned” has gotta be my favourite song they’ve made. It really is amazing, I don’t think the rest of album is as good but I’m sure a few more will grow on me by the time I’m done dissecting this long awaited album

Digging: The Ever Living - HEREPHEMINE

BigHans
April 20th 2018


29348 Comments


About a year ago I drove 1000 miles to see APC. Granted, it was mostly to go on a roadtrip and get away from my old lady, but regardless, band rules. Cant wait to jam.



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