Although fans of his multiplatinum vehicles Tool and A Perfect Circle like to paint him as an arcane, poetry-drunk, Jim Morrison-esque frontman, Maynard James Keenan is one puerile sonofabitch at heart; and with Puscifer, his long-in-the-making solo vehicle, Keenan shows just how dirty (and funny) he can be when he steps outside the democracies of his usual poker-faced sidemen. Head-smackingly obvious as its naughty bits are, however, "V" Is for Vagina isn't merely about pee-pee humor for its own sake. Like the late, great Frank Zappa — whose well-deep vocals, bawdy satire, and practice of surrounding himself with ace session players are invoked throughout Puscifer's music — Keenan uses low culture to make high claims against censorship, ignorance, and herd mentality. He's in interesting company, too, with genres from dark ambient (Lustmord) to prog (Primus' Tim Alexander, King Crimson's Trey Gunn) to brainy singer-songwriter (Lisa Germano) represented in the album's guest list, if not always in its final mix. Nearly every tune floats around a throbbing, bass-loaded industrial-dance core that bypasses your head en route to your groin. The fact that "V" serves as such a great soundtrack for sex makes the idea of a deeper meaning feel a little ironic, but given Keenan's history, that's likely just his way of fucking with us to make a point.


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