Reviews A Perfect Circle Thirteenth Step

A Perfect Circle

Thirteenth Step

And so, our alt-rock heroes in a Perfect Circle return for the second installment, to see if the dreaded sophmore slump can be overcome. The band's first record was one of the last hopes of the dying breed of aggressive guitar-driven radio rock that was received to a fair amount of hoopla, understandably due to a handful of incredible tracks on the first half of the record, one of which was the anthemic radio staple "Judith." Where the band fell apart on that first record was on the second half, when they attempted to be atmospheric and set a mood, which is what they focus on here. On this record, the band plays in such a predictable and radio-friendly manner that any effect is far gone, instead swallowed up by a band stripping away and ignoring the visceral elements of their sound and replacing them with processing and effects loops, a group of songs so insultingly pedestrian you'd expect them to be played as the music over credits on an A&E documentary. The record starts with the weakest cut on it, the Tool soundalike "The Package," with Maynard James Keenan singing pretentious, meaningless lyrics over high-end plucking on the guitars and heavy tom-tom drumming, as well as a high-pitched attempt at a vocal hook in the chorus that's so poorly sung it's painful to the ears; by the time the expected crescendo comes midway through the far too long eight-minute running length, you're so bored that you fail to notice that it's so bland and ineffective that it might as well not even be there at all. "Weak and Powerless," the lead single, follows next, which manages to do nothing interesting whatsoever in the three minutes that it possesses, failing to even establish an effective hook in its chorus. A steady descent in worth and quality follows, as the group tries to set a mood, which they accomplish, but fail to add any weight to it to give it validity. Even the better moments in this collective series of low points only inspire thoughts of the finer moments on the band's first record, as "A Stranger" sounds like "3 Libras"-lite, and "Vanishing" plays like a cross between "Sleeping Beauty" and "Magdalena," only uninteresting. The band even manages to butcher "The Nurse Who Loved Me" by the far superior mid-'90's band Failure, stripping it of any edge the original had, in a seemingly desperate attempt to attain some sort of cred, comparable to Thursday's cover of "Stars." Even the closing "Gravity" can't manage to signal an end to things, instead lurching along through the motions like the rest of this sorry affair until it finally fades off, hopefully like this band will after this disaster of a record. A Perfect Circle have become what everyone hoped they wouldn't, which is Tool Jr, a band so full of talent yet so devoid of any ideas or substantial ways of communicating them that they're entirely ineffective. They've followed the same route as Mr Keenan's main project, pulling the cheap trick of setting an ambient, "artistic" mood to cover up the fact that they don't actually have any good ideas, only instead of Tool's faux-artsy, empty, hollow, pretentious bombast, we've been given faux-artsy, empty, hollow, pretentious radio-rock. What's most insulting is that this group of people in their 30's have produced something this melodramatic and angsty, making something for all the Hot Topic kids to listen to on those nights when Mom and Dad "just don't understand" and won't let them borrow the car. If I wanted drivel as stupid and boring as this tripe, I'd rather listen to Thrice or Thursday, at least they sound like they're having a good time.

3.3 / 10Charlie
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Virgin

2003

3.3 / 10

3.3 / 10

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