A Perfect Circle have released Eat The Elephant, their fourth studio album.
It has been well over a decade since we have gotten an album's worth of new material from APC. The band's last LP of original music was 2003's Thirteenth Step, and their most recent albums aside from that have been 2004's cover songs LP eMOTIVe and 2013's releases of a live album and a greatest hits album which had a single new song on it.
Eat The Elephant is an interesting marriage between Maynard James Keenan's insightful social commentary in the lyrics and co-writer Billy Howerdel's creativity in crafting songs.
Maynard shared his thought process about what inspired the album in an interview with Revolver:
It's about reconnecting and taking responsibility for yourself. There's accountability with that and in yourself. What are you doing to help your family? What are you doing to look at yourself and figure out what part of the problem you are? I don't think any of this stuff is going to be fixed. Pointing a finger at Trump isn't going to get anything done. And yeah, he's a buffoon. He's not the only buffoon... Cutting the head off the snake's not going to do shit. It's not really a snake, is it? A Medusa.
"Disillusioned" features hypnotizing guitar riffs and meditative drums that lay the foundation for Maynard's contemplative lyrics, telling us, it's "time to put the silicon obsession down / Take a look around, find a way in the silence." "The Doomed" retains the familiar tension and release of the band's sound from past albums with sparse orchestral embellishments, pounding drums, and distorted guitars.
"So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish" finds the band creating orchestral elements that make the song feel more like a pop radio hit than anything the band has released in their nearly 20 years. Fans will recognize the distorted guitar sound, heavy drums, and Maynard's evocative vocals, but "So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish" has an uptempo beat that is a significant departure from anything the band have ever released. "TalkTalk" contains relaxed rhythm before guitars sweep in for the chorus while Keenan's vocals are run through some interesting effects in this track and "Hourglass."
In an interview with Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Maynard talked about the recording process of the album and working with Billy Howerdel. He also revealed how he balances his time between Puscifer, Tool, and A Perfect Circle. Keenan points out that he has to stubbornly accept the fact that his music may not resonate with future generations, saying, "Just be relevant in what you're doing and be okay with not being part of the future, if you can get your head around that you're not going to be part of the next generation's focus, for egomaniacs like us, that's hard."
After a 14 year gap, the most notable change regarding the band's sound is aggression. Eat The Elephant incorporates more strings, orchestral arrangements, and piano segments than APC has used on albums before. As a whole, the recognizable APC rock sound is still there, but it does not dominate the 12-track album. Fans who were expecting a heavier sound like that on Mer de Noms might find this album a bit slow or mellow. If that is the case, I would suggest giving this a few spins even if you do not like it at first. With age comes maturity, and A Perfect Circle have found new areas to explore that are interesting and satisfying.
Eat The Elephant is currently available on Amazon. You can also stream the album for free below, via Spotify.
The band is currently touring North America. For concert tickets and more, check out A Perfect Circle's Zumic artist page.