Puscifer ‘Money Shot’ Review: Maynard James Keenan and co. make their most cohesive and satisfying album to date.
Frontman Maynard James Keenan lit up the internet this week when he appeared to lash out at Tool’s fan base, saying in a Phoenix New Times interview that they’re: Insufferable people. It’s just ridiculous, retards. I’m sorry. Can’t help them. Way too serious. Too much. Lighten up.
Other music sites scooped it up, but lost the context in exchange for clickbait. The question actually regarded his frustration that his quirky sense of humor is lost on a subset of obsessive fans-while also being fatigued by the question, when’s the new Tool album coming out?
Luckily fans of his electronic based project Puscifer are in on the sly joke-Keenan is the Andy Kaufman of alternative rock- as noted on albums like 2007’s “V” Is For Vagina and 2011’s Conditions of My Parole.
But their latest release, Money Shot also offers moments of navel gazing earnestness-resulting in the band’s most emotive and complex work to date.
Crafted in the singer’s adopted town of Jerome, Arizona (where he also tends his winery), it practically bleeds sand.
Opening track Galileo’s sparse guitar and electronic textures conjures images of the vast desert, while the Spaghetti Western flavored first single Grand Canyon is the literal equivalent, where Keenan (joined by vocalist Carina Round) meditates on feeling small while gazing at the American landmark: One among infinity/Witnessing the majesty…standing on the edge of forever.
Round, playing a larger role than ever before (she’s a cowriter on all but one track), proves Money Shot’s secret weapon-her ethereal crystal clear siren call complimenting Keenan’s distinctive croon in pleasant and unexpected ways on tracks like The Arsonist and The Remedy.
The former, a seemingly bleak tune of disaffected youth is punctuated by the absurdly hilarious chorus: Whats the matter Beavis?! The dated pop-culture reference provides a delightfully wackadoo moment.
Likewise, The Remedy is classic wise-ass MJK: You speak like someone who has never been/Smacked in the fucking mouth/That’s OK, we have the remedy.
Simultaneous feels like a Portlandia-style parody of ponderous stoner conversations. Over glum John Carpenter synths, a festival concertgoer recounts meeting an oddball in an oversized yellow form-rubber cowboy hat who crackpot philosophizes: We will never know world peace, until three people can simultaneously look each other straight in the eye.
And for those longing for more aggressive material, the title track throws Tool fans a bone, with a grinding industrial blast of full metal angst.
Money Shot is the most consistent Puscifer album to date, benefitting from the strengthened nucleus of Keenan, Round and multi-instrumentalist Mat Mitchell, (as well as guest musicians including QOTSA drummer Jon Theodore).
Keenan noted that sense of confidence in his recent press release: I’m no longer having to reinvent myself. I’m settling into what I know…I am just settling into me.
That assurance should make it clear, once and for all, that Puscifer isn’t a side project. If anything, Money Shot leaves the band wide-open to follow wherever their wonderfully weird muse desires to take them.