When Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan covered Wings' "Silly Love Songs" as a guest vocalist for the Replicants, it was amusing and well thought out. When Tool covered "No Quarter" in concert it was intense, appropriate, and staggeringly good. And when Maynard continued the tradition with the beautiful recording of Failure's "The Nurse Who Loved Me," it became apparent that Maynard had a penchant for re-recording songs that were of high quality but not necessarily anthems. But then there's the notion of recording a whole album of covers, which immediately sends off red flags that the water may be running dry and the record label is thirsty for a new release. A Perfect Circle's album of covers, eMOTIVe, falls flat and fails to raise the bar set so high by the quality of their previous two releases. Turning some of popular music's most potent songs into a soundtrack ideal for background music at your local teen-angst mall-chain clothing store, A Perfect Circle work their way through 12 songs that would almost be unrecognizable in their current arrangement if one weren't familiar with the original versions of each song. John Lennon's somber, optimistic anthem for peace, "Imagine," is changed from its original major key to a funereal minor key dirge. Marvin Gaye's perfect "What's Going On" is turned into a horrible industrial track that would be permissible on a budget-line compilation but is simply unforgivable in its inclusion here. The same could apply to the butchering of Black Flag's "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" and a few other numbers. However, the album's sole moment of tranquility and its most effective moments lie in the band's treatment of Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks," and the disturbing a cappella of Joni Mitchell's "Fiddle and the Drum." eMOTIVe is a slight dent in the armor of Maynard's nearly flawless career as a frontman, and it's (hopefully) a mere detour for A Perfect Circle.
AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston