Nowadays, if you’re a celebrity, there are really two ways you can protest a war or government. You can either do what one Fred Durst did, and make a holy fool of yourself by grabbing the mic at an awards show and saying to the crowd “I hope we’re all in agreeance that this war should go away”; or plan b) you can make a protest album. Maynard James Keenan and his side project, A Perfect Circle, have a little intelligence on their side, so they chose the latter option. “Emotive,” APC’s third release, is a protest/covers album; it covers everything from John Lennon (“Imagine”) to Depeche Mode (“People Are People”) to Black Flag (“Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie”). Plus, there are two original songs (tracks which aren’t covers). Track five, “Passive,” is actually a remake of a song written by Keenan and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, and “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” (catchy title, huh?) is, contrary to popular belief, not a remix of the song “Pet” (which appeared on A Perfect Circle’s last album, “13th Step”). Rather, this song is a continuation/second part of “Pet.”
Some fans think that “Emotive” isn’t an anti-war album, because of comments made by Maynard before the album’s release. But, with lyrics like “war is not the answer” (in “What’s Going On,” a song originally done by Marvin Gaye), it’s hard to believe there isn’t an underlying political or anti-war message, here.
Almost every song on here is moving and touching. “Emotive,” as a whole, is very depressing, but it’s also very pretty. Plus, some of the songs (like “Imagine” and “Passive”) are even kind of catchy.
The album begins with “Annihilation,” which has very creepy, almost bonechilling whispers about power. The next song, “Imagine,” is the single. It has some funeral-like piano playing, occasional string plucking, and a rhythmic drum beat; but it’s mainly catchy because of Maynard’s vocal style. Tracks three and eleven, (“What’s So Funny `Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” and “When The Levee Breaks,” find Maynard singing in a clear, limpid, feminine, almost falsetto tone. Plus, the former track is very atmospheric, with reverberating piano keys, a violin, and a resonating drum beat.
Elsewhere, “What’s Going On” has very spacey singing with humming, almost static-y synthesizers; “Passive” is rather up-tempo and fast; and the album closer, “Fiddle and the Drum,” is almost breathtaking (with nasal, a capella singing).
“Emotive” doesn’t raise the bar for Maynard or A Perfect Circle, so it’s understandable that some fans would be quite disappointed by this album. Plus, if you think a protest album should uplift the listener’s spirits and give you a feeling of empowerment, you’ll definitely not have any luck with this C.D.. But if you’re an anti-war Maynard aficionado who’s looking for some peace love and understanding, or if you just want a C.D. that’s very calming and soothing, look no further.