A Perfect Circle – “Disillusioned”

A Perfect Circle – “Disillusioned”

A Perfect Circle Returns in Fine Form


After years of hiatus and a couple of uninspired releases, Maynard James Keenan’s second-best band A Perfect Circle has finally revitalised the sound that once made them so listenable in the first place. Dusky, layered and deceptively simple, “Disillusioned” is the sound of a re-awakening, for the band and the listeners.

Rating: 7.5/11


A Perfect Circle has struggled to seem like a necessary band for a while now. The side project of Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan (along with his dinner theatre/experimental group Puscifer), APC have never been much more than adequate alternative rock bolstered by Keenan’s operatic vocals. After two pretty fantastic albums in the early 2000s, they releasedĀ eMOTIVE inĀ 2004, a weirdly misconceived cover album that was redeemed only by a definitive recording of their last great song, “Passive“.

Cut to 2013 after almost a decade-long hiatus, where APC drops “By and Down“, a middling, slumbering track that seeps into the wallpaper and stays there. Then, a little less than three months back came “The Doomed“, which had a lot of the frantic percussion, breathy sonics, crunchy chords and biblical overtures of old school APC but still felt antiseptic and put-on, like something produced by a better-than-average cover band.

“Disillusioned” is one hell of a course correction, and it has left me legitimately excited for a new full-length A Perfect Circle album, something I haven’t been able to say in over ten years. Billy Howerdel – who has always been one of the most technically proficient guitarists I know that I never think about until he’s actually playing – keeps things simple, deploying soaring chords that hue yellow and black. He sets the storm a-brewin’, which is flanked on either side by Jeff Friedl’s patient drums and James Iha’s plaintive keys.

But, as always, it’s Maynard James Keenan’s show, as it should be. You know it’s gonna be a fucking proper display of Keenan at his most angelic, cryptic and chilling when he kicks the song off with one of his signature moves: a chopped and frantic mantra that bounces around the beat, a plea from down the bottom of a well from a decrepit wraith. This is what siren songs must’ve sounded like: “DOH-PAH-MEEEN ON DOH-PAH-MEEEN“.

Lyrically, Keenan has long been skewering more political and a whole lot less subtle compared to his early days of “Sober” and “Stinkfist“. So, yeah, lines like “Time to put the silicon obsession down” are a little cringey, but that’s content without context. Ideally, Keenan’s lyrics should never really be read as transcribed; it’s like trying to get the impression of a Jimi Hendrix song by reading the words [Guitar Solo]. Keenan’s singular, fragile yet showstopping singing voice defines his words, they don’t define him. All he really needs at his disposal is a killer melody, and on “Disillusioned” he finds no less than four distinct ones to follow, warp and meld with his mellifluous coo. Hearing more of this man at the top of his form is the first true blessing of 2018.

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