Eels - Wonderful, Glorious
- By Kathleen Moore -
- Jan 28, 2013
‘Wonderful/Glorious’ is the 10th studio album from Mark Oliver Everett, aka E, and his ever-changing backdrop of musicians that make up Eels. It is now nearly 17 years since their breakout album, 'Beautiful Freak' earned them a devoted following. And 10 years since I used to steal 'Daisies of the Galaxy' from my brother’s room to listen obsessively to. But that’s by the by. The real question is, can such a cult band maintain its relevance after 10 albums?
If this album is the ‘vibrant and dynamic journey’ it claims to be, then opening track ‘Bombs Away’ is the shove out of the plane that heralds the beginning of such a parachute jump.
A juggernaut of a track at five minutes 25, it is a brave decision, bordering of folly to serve it as an entrée. But stick with it. The sultry drumbeat, pacing bass and scratchy guitars slowly build to create a hypnotic sound that drags the listener in. Principal singer/songwriter, Everett then growls that he’s been ‘quiet as a church-house mouse’ and that promises he will ‘no longer keep my mouth shut.’
The band’s website states that a number of the songs are from the perspective of E feeling he was ‘backed into a figurative corner.’ And Bombs Away is setting the tone for a lyrical transparency through all 13 tracks that lay the songwriter bare.
‘On the Ropes’ offers a change of pace, slower and more pared down, a nostalgic nod to previous hits. It has all the right components for an Eels classic. The skittering beat and comfortingly jangly chord sequences that lay a familiar backdrop to Everett’s old-timey laconically charming growl that; “I’m not knocked out but I’m on the ropes.”
‘Accident Prone’ too has the lullaby-esque guitar work and insightful, story-telling lyrics that Everett is rightly revered for. The tune is at imes discordant, producing what could be a musical nod to the inner confusion of its creator.
The new line-up of Eels, including bass player Koool G Murder and drummer Knuckles, comes fresh, if jetlagged, from two world tours. And as Everett says, “On the tours, it was apparent to me that this was the best band I’d ever been involved with.”
This newest incarnation of Eels have certainly produced tracks with a different feel, nestled amongst the more familiar tracks on this emotional journey of an album. 'Peach Blossom' is full of jagged corners and snarled lyrics, so bound up in nervous energy that it gives off a suggestion of violence on the horizon.
Equally lush in its production is album closer, and the triumphant final act of Everett’s journey is Wonderful/Glorious itself. And it really is both wonderful and glorious. Starting out from the sapling of a slick, funk-esque, beat it builds a catchy guitar hook and joyfully sung lyrics to create a track that will make you smile.
Wonderful/Glorious is not immediately loveable, it is definitely a grower. But given time, each track will latch onto you like a musical hermit crab until you learn to love it.
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