A Perfect Circle

eMOTIVe (Virgin)

A Perfect Circle's eMOTIVe is the angriest chill-out album since Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral. Inspired by current events, this side project from Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan covers classic songs of uprising, greed, and protest, and in a detached manner that's mostly a welcome departure. Black Flag's "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie," one of the liveliest tracks, is a music-box waltz accompanied by Keenan's froth-spewing snarl. "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," meanwhile, written by Nick Lowe and made famous by Elvis Costello, here is downgraded from an indictment to a rhetorical question, as is Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Fear's "Let's Have a War" gets closer to the heart of the matter, hinting at a military-industrial complex and expendable demographics.

Subversive typography notwithstanding, eMOTIVe creates an ominous mood of menacing quiet, combining string arrangements, electro beats, and piano loops into a coherent downtempo disc. Though many of the tracks are unplugged, this is a Perfect Circle's most electric effort to date.