A Perfect Circle - Eat The Elephant
Review by Dom Vigil
Eat The Elephant, A Perfect Circle’s first new album in nearly fourteen years is a perfect reintroduction to a band that have been pushing the boundaries of their music since the very beginning. The stunning, cinematic twelve song effort finds the band making a realistic yet incredibly optimistic commentary on at the world's current state of affairs and humanity’s shortcomings while experimenting with their sound more than ever before.
Spearheaded by the simplistic, piano-driven title track, Eat The Elephant starts off on an unconventional note. “Eat The Elephant” nearly feels like an epic conclusion sonically, while lyrically, frontman Maynard James Keenan poses the question, “Where to begin?” Throughout the track, he continues to urge listeners to take the first step, to keep pushing forward in optimistic lines like, “Take the step / Take the swing / Take the bite / Just go all in”. From there, Eat The Elephant continues to expand into a lush soundscape. The second track, “Disillusioned” is no less beautiful, but with a haunting edge as Keenan urges you to take a hard look within yourself and question what’s important to you and what really matters in the grand scheme of things.
Vocally, Eat The Elephant contains some of Keenan’s best vocal performances for A Perfect Circle to date. The contrast between the perfectly poised “The Contrarian” and the gritty, unhinged “The Doomed” showcases his range in both sound and tone, while songs like “TalkTalk” simply go above and beyond what fans have come to expect. Sonically, the band proves that less can certainly be more with this release. With a simplistic, ambient opener like “Eat The Elephant” kicking off the album and songs like “Disillusioned” playing with time, tempo and tone changes, it’s obvious that the band took great care in the songwriting and storytelling on this release. While “heavier” and darker songs like “Hourglass” and “The Doomed” are a welcome change of pace, the quiet moments are actually the hardest hitting.
Standouts throughout Eat The Elephant are the songs that break the mold or perfectly blend thoughtful lyricism with powerful vocal work and larger than life songwriting. “TalkTalk,” for instance, hosts a little bit of everything. Like “The Doomed,” “TalkTalk” is very dark, changing mood and tempo in the blink of an eye and feeling almost like an unpredictable storm - you really don’t know what’s coming next, and that’s what makes it so strong. Lyrically, “TalkTalk” follows the theme of the rest of Eat The Elephant, in lines like, “Don’t be the problem / Be the solution,” which urge you to be the best version of yourself in an already harrowing world. Similarly, “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish” really puts things in perspective, citing specific celebrities, hot topics and political figures to urge you to question what really matters in life.
The best thing about Eat The Elephant is easily its unpredictability. You never know what’s coming next, whether it’s another stunning, ambient track like “Get The Lead Out” or “DLB” or one that pushes A Perfect Circle's sonic boundaries like the electronic-tinged “Hourglass.” Showcasing some of Maynard James Keenan’s most dynamic vocal work to date and coupled with powerful lyricism and intricate songwriting, Eat The Elephant has definitely been worth the wait. In this day in age, it’s hard not to be inspired and affected by current events and things going on around us, and A Perfect Circle have found a way to weave these subjects into Eat The Elephant in a really beautiful and optimistic way. It’s the album that we need to hear right now.
LISTEN TO: "Disillusioned" or "TalkTalk"
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