Hello all, been a while since we’ve done one of these. It’s also been about fifteen years since A Perfect Circle last put out an album worth of wholly original material, with their masterpiece The Thirteenth Step. Like a new Tool album, the expectations and hype are high. How does it sound, fifteen years later? Let’s jump right in.
A Perfect Circle returns with twelve brand new tracks:
- Eat The Elephant (5:14)
- Disillusioned (5:54)
- The Contrarian (3:59)
- The Doomed (4:42)
- So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish (4:26)
- TalkTalk (4:16)
- By And Down The River (5:05)
- Delicious (3:50)
- DLB (2:07)
- Hourglass (5:14)
- Feathers (5:48)
- Get The Lead Out (6:41)
Really paints a picture, doesn’t it? In all seriousness though, Eat the Elephant is a relentlessly political album, as is to be expected from an A Perfect Circle release. It seems to me no coincidence that this band should return at a time when a controversial president reigns again. After all, I can only think of a couple possible meanings of eating the elephant.
To see what I mean, you need look no further than the four singles released ahead of the album: Disillusioned is a rebuke of the digital age and its obsession with efficiency and instant gratification, you have The Doomed about wealth inequality and conservative America’s reaction to it by way of the prosperity gospel, and TalkTalk is an especially topical song about gun control. Finally, So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish critiques both our culture’s worship of celebrity and its use as a distraction from war (personified by the atomic bomb).
I admit, the lyrical commentary seems to be a bit on the nose on this release, but I do not think it is any more so than certain songs on The Thirteenth Step (looking at you, Pet). Besides, as the old adage goes, and like an alternative metal counterpart to Bad Religion, A Perfect Circle strokes your heart.
Unlike Mer de Noms and The Thirteen Step before it, Eat the Elephant lacks an all-out heavy rock track. I guess The Doomed arguably takes that role, but even this track seems a bit restrained next to a song like The Outsider or Judith. Even The Thirteen Step, which was overall more focused on melody and whose first half consisted entirely of softer tracks, had its heavier moments.
Here, instead, Maynard James Keenan and crew have opted for a moody, meditative sound almost reminiscent of what he did on Tool’s last statement, 10,000 Days. I admit it does get tiring, and I think The Thirteen Step executed on the idea better (which, again, was occasionally punctuated by heavy moments). However, I applaud the band for trying something new with their sound. This could pay off on a subsequent release, you never know.
Finally, I ultimately believe the strongest tracks on Eat the Elephant are the singles we have already heard, including The Doomed and So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish (my personal favorite). There are deeper cuts worth checking out, such as The Contrarian and By And Down The River. Get The Lead Out strikes me as a bit of a weaker track, which is unfortunate because it’s actually a unique blend of Tool-style moodiness with a hip-hop beat.
So how does the album measure up? Eat the Elephant is a little shaky, sure, but I think there is potential to move in interesting directions from here if the band decides not to take another fifteen years to follow it up. Eat the Elephant gets a 6 out of 10 from me, for songs that take interesting approaches individually in terms of both sound and lyrics, but which can be a slog to listen to as a complete album.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. See you next week!
What did you think of this album? Did the band strike the right balance between soft and heavy? Do the lyrics measure up to previous releases? Share your thoughts in the comments section!