A Perfect Circle - Eat The Elephant album reviewed

A sophisticated return for Tool’s ‘feminine’ offshoot

A Perfect Circle Eat The Elephant album cover

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A Perfect Circle - Eat The Elephant

A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant album cover

Eat The Elephant
The Contrarian
The Doomed
So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
By And Down The River
Get The Lead Out

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According to the press release, A Perfect Circle – the “emotional and feminine” side project of Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Billy Howerdel – didn’t re-form for sporadic gigs in 2010 at all. Instead, they’re releasing their fourth album in 14 years because Howerdel recently woke from the suspended animation he was placed in after 2004’s Emotive, keen to make a new record and promote it via defunct outlets such as MySpace and, ahem, print media. You guys… 

Such humour does infiltrate the music – there’s a track named after the Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy instalment So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish – but this mature, theatrical evolution of APC’s fourmillion-selling early work is no laughing matter. The opening title track sets the album’s elegant tone, Keenan husking emotive balladry to a lounge jazz backing, like the unlikeliest pianist in a beatnik bar. 

Eat The Elephant gradually gains heft while staying intriguingly unpredictable. If The Contrarian, Feathers, By And Down The River and The Doomed are multi-segment, quasi-religious goth epics designed to appease Tool fans (“blessed are the fornicants, may we bend down to be their whores!” Keenan growls, clearly a Love Island fan), they’re also misleading diversions to give Keenan and Howerdel breathing space for more frivolous fun. 

Get The Lead Out could be a doom rock Alt-J, Talktalk is pure Depeche Bowie, Hourglass is a goddamn vocoder electro rap, and the Weezer-like So Long… even references Princess Leia and Willy Wonka with a vaguely straight face. Such satisfying sounds, prog metal heroes puncturing their own pomposity

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.