Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan may have embraced new-agey spirituality and wine-collecting in his middle age, but one thing's for damn certain: The guy's still got a warped sense of humor. And he's bound to hit Tool fans where it hurts on this, his first solo release. Keenan has been imitated so much in the realm of heavy rock that he is forced by default to skirt the bounds of self-parody simply when he sings like himself. On Vagina, however, he thoroughly embraces self-parody, and fans will be holding their gut either from disgust or from uncontrollable laughter. From the get-go, as Keenan sings, "Grab them saddle bags 'n ... toss 'em over me ... my baby's got a thickness ... can I get a witness?" it is painful yet delightfully obvious that something is amiss. This isn't to say Keenan simply masturbated in a cup and handed it over to his audience. A more electronically driven affair with a rotating cast of guests (including Danny Lohner and Rage Against the Machine's Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk), Vagina will expand your mind at least as much as Tool does, only in a refreshingly less dour way. Leave your expectations at the door, and fly the Maynard skies (you'll understand when you see the outrageously funny artwork). It's a bumpy ride but well worth it, and the absurdist touches only accentuate Keenan's biting social commentary.


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