A Perfect Circle: Eat the Elephant

A Perfect Circle
Eat the Elephant
April 20th, 2018


It’s been almost 15 years since A Perfect Circle has released a full length album of new material, and the band has grown and evolved so much during that time.
Eat the Elephant, much like the band’s Emotive release, has a distinct and polarizing political theme.
“It’s about reconnecting and taking responsibility for yourself,” founder and vocalist Maynard James Keenan said of the album’s concept.
“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? Its a Medusa…There’s a hands-on approach to those things, and I think that’s something we’ve lost touch with. All the bitching and posting on Facebook to think you’re going to change something, it’s not going to do anything. We need to reconnect.”
The album’s opening and title track is a piano and drum laced ballad that focuses on Keenan’s more quiet vocals. The track touches on dealing with the death of loved ones, with lyrics inspired by the deaths of two people close to guitarist and co-founder Billy Howerdel. Earlier versions of the track were co-written with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, who committed suicide in July of 2017. It’s a very somber track and one of the most emotional that the band has released.
Eat the Elephant morphs into Disillusioned, the album’s second single. Inspired by the suicide of Robin Williams, the track is a brilliant mixture of what we’ve come to expect from the band and what they’ve evolved into. Disillusioned is one of the album’s tracks to actually listen too with intent. The message is clear; pay attention to those you care about, you never know when they’ll be gone.
Following the somber chords of Disillusioned, The Contrarian is full of violins, harp strings, subtle drums, and Howerdel’s signature guitar style. Keenan maintains his calming tone from previous tracks, but there’s a definite build up to the track’s crescendo.
The Doomed gives us our first glimpse at the venomous anger Keenan feels towards the corrupt individuals that hide behind their virtues, politics and organized religion to justify their actions against those they deem weaker. There’s a definite sense of urgency in the churning guitars and pounding beats.
So Long, and Thanks For the Fish has a surprisingly upbeat tempo while referencing the recently passed Gene Wilder, David Bowie and Carrie Fisher.
TalkTalk keeps the momentum going as Keenan chastises those who offer “thoughts and prayers” during times of tragedy instead of any kind of actual help. Keenan’s vocal runs continue to couple perfectly with Howerdel’s thrashing guitars and thunderous drum beats.
By And Down The River is a re-working of 2013’s By And Down, off of the band’s Three Sixty, and Stone And Echo releases. Except for the new title, the track differs little from the original version. It’s still an amazing track though.
Arrogant and insolent. Delicious is refreshing reminder to the heavier tracks of the band’s previous releases. Keenan’s gravelly vocals grinding in step with acoustic guitars, violins and swirling electric guitars.
The instrumental piece DLB, focusing again on Howerdel’s piano skills, leads perfectly into Hourglass. The band had premiered Hourglass during their 2017 tour, and it was one of the album’s tracks that I was most curious to hear in its studio iteration. While first half of the album is rather mellow, the last half picks up the tempo and crafts a heavier sound that finds its roots within Mer de Noms and The Thirteenth Step.
Feathers, also premiered during the band’s 2017 tour, dominates with the vocal range that we’ve come to expect from Keenan when coupled with Howerdel’s soaring guitars.
Closing the album with no time to coddle you, Get the Lead Out is crafted from a sound that I’ve never heard A Perfect Circle utilize before. It’s a very experimental track with its vinyl scratches, snare hits, and vocal manipulation.
Let’s be honest. If you’re expecting the musical brutality of The Thirteenth Step, or the passive aggressive style of Mer de Noms, you’ll be disappointed. Eat the Elephant is an amalgamation of inspirations brought on by of 14 years of anger, loss, disappointment and acceptance. As a whole, A Perfect Circle are not giving us what we expect to hear from them, they’re giving us what we need to hear now. There’s no point for Keenan and Howerdel to rehash the music and style from their previous releases, and no one wants that. Keenan is a master of not mixing styles or sounds from his other projects, and for that I am grateful.
Even though I hate rating album’s, I’ll give Eat the Elephant a firm 8/10.  As a whole, it’s a great piece. It will definitely end up in heavy rotation for me, and be one of those albums that maintains its presence in the back of my mind.
Good night. Sleep tight.


Track listing: