A Perfect Circle - _Mer de Noms_
(Virgin, 2000)
by: Paul Schwarz (8.5 out of 10)
With this being lyrical genius and intensely emotional Tool singer Maynard James Keenan's side-project-of-sorts, it is not surprising that from the first notes of finely crafted opener "The Hollow", APC bear comparisons to one of the greatest bands on the last decade, which can't be an entirely bad thing. Maynard's vocals are admittedly the main cause of this and only a handful of tracks (e.g. "Magdalena", "Judith" (which is the classically irreverent "single")) are actually exceptionally close to Tool's heady interplay of guitar, bass and drums. That said, APC will appeal to people like myself who are fans of Tool, and if you find Tool a bit too emotionally troubled in their lyrics or "long-winded" in their song structures, then maybe APC will even be the quicker fix to better suit your tastes. APC bears a much stronger influence from ordinary alternative rock, and its track lengths (particularly) and song structures (somewhat) stick far more closely to popular music norms than Tool ever have; no song on _Mer de Noms_ clocks in at over five minutes in length. Maynard's collaboration with Billy Howerdel, Paz Lenchantin, Josh Freese and Troy van Leeuwen (and I'll bet they're all from California with those names...) has resulted in a record peppered with a nice batch of really great songs but which has definite fall-out points, and fails to capture the soul-searing sincerity of Tool's creations.

(article published 12/8/2000)


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