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Single Review: A Perfect Circle – ‘By And Down’

2 min read

A Perfect Circle are to release a greatest hits compilation later this year, which is a rather questionable move considering the fact that there are only twenty-five original songs in the band’s entire catalogue. However, to be included on this record is one piece of new material: By And Down, which is a track that the group have performed live in the past, but has only now received the studio treatment. It is, I suppose, intended as an enticement for fans to repurchase what will essentially be half of APC’s output, however I do not believe it will be particularly successful in doing so.

A Perfect Circle - By And DownThe tune proceeds with the almost constant sense of foreboding that’s typical of much of the music of both this group and Tool – for whom Maynard James Keenan is also the vocalist. APC’s particular ability to weave this kind of darkness between melodic lines of varying colour is what is appealing about their past work, for me at least. However, By And Down, despite resting on a solid foundation, does not have enough substance to hold attention, and especially not for five and a half minutes.

When, at the start, Keenan’s vocals are heard above some subdued and ominous instrumentation, and as new layers are introduced, there is promise. However, the track doesn’t progress far past this point; melodically, whilst there is development, it is scarcely appreciable, and thus becomes tired; in terms of magnitude, there is incremental growth, but it doesn’t quite reach the height that the tune feels like it needs – especially as later in the track we are teased with a break-down and build up which doesn’t take us anywhere, but just leads us back to where we were before. The track’s lack of momentum also contributes to a general feeling of lazy largeness.

That By And Down will appear on A Perfect Circle’s greatest hits compilation is unfortunate, because, whilst the song isn’t necessarily bad, it certainly isn’t representative of the band’s best work.