So close

I was close. The opening line of Breaking Benjamin’s “Breath” (“I see nothing in your eyes”) is, note for note, a copy of “And I didn’t want to know”, which is the the opening line of “Blue” from A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step.

There is a reason I cannot listen to entire Breaking Benjamin albums. It’s as if they are ever in search of the perfect hook, which means most of any given album feels half-hearted musically—so much fumbling toward that elusive goal.† On the other hand, when they find one, they kill it. Benjamin Burnley’s voice and the band’s careful blend of power and restraint cover over a multitude of sins.

In trying to find the link that eluded me earlier, I went through each track of Thirteenth Step. I still contend this is their best album. It comes across as something organic, which, given that they are technically a super-group, is impressive. I am reminded of the subtle power of Maynard’s voice. He is always, even with Tool, slightly behind the mix, and one gets the sense that he is supremely focused on nuance. It is interesting to see his increased presence in what is a side project. With Tool he can, and often does, safely retreat behind the centrality of Danny Carey. But in A Perfect Circle he is forced to be front and center, as much as he is willing to do, which is far less than Burnley could ever imagine.

† Which is unfortunate, as there is the occasional hidden gem like “Home” from Saturate.

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