If you want to stump an A Perfect Circle fan, ask them which of the band’s first two albums they prefer: 2000’s Mer De Noms debut, or its 2003 follow-up, Thirteenth Step. Such is the towering majesty and superb artistry of both records, it turns a simple either-or question into an agonising choice. Both are brilliant, and both very much stand on their own merit, with their own personality. The bad news for those that have long struggled with this quandary is that Eat The Elephant, the first studio release since 2004’s politically focused covers collection eMOTIVe, has made the ‘Best APC album’ debate a three-horse race.
Not as romantic as their debut album, or as dynamic as the second, Eat The Elephant instead comes swathed in a captivating coat embroidered by growth and maturation that doesn’t unbutton easily. Just look at the songs released so far. The Doomed, though powered by grand spaghetti western drums that give a clue to its origins as a piece of soundtrack work by guitarist and band mastermind Billy Howerdel, constantly pulls back from its own bombast. So does Disillusioned, thanks to a melody that melts into starkness under the heat of its own intensity. They’re slow burns, though, with only TalkTalk, all airy keys and a classic cryptic Maynard James Keenan lyric (‘Like cake in a crisis’) sounding like it might have been cryogenically frozen for the past 14 years. Which, incidentally, the singer has jokingly been suggesting Billy was.