Review: Eels – Wonderful, Glorious
Published on February 6th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Now onto his tenth album as Eels, Mark Oliver Everett remains as capable as ever of adding to his enviable arsenal of Bloody Good Songs without quite managing to keep the quality level consistent enough to turn in the kind of bold, cohesive statement he arguably hasn’t mustered since 2000’s Daisies of the Galaxy.
That’s not to say that Wonderful, Glorious is mired in weak material – it’s just that E is so frequently given to outdoing himself that it can be hard to digest his LPs holistically. The gorgeously laid-back major 7th chords of “Accident Prone” could almost be about this, seemingly reconciling the pros and cons of it all with “good thing I’ve always been so accident prone”, and this faintly Stevie Wonder-ish number is a highlight of the set along with “On the Ropes”, reminiscent as it is of Beck circa Mutations, and the impassioned pop liftoff of the closing title track.
Opener “Bombs Away” is sufficiently tense and scuzzy to recall “That’s Not Really Funny” from 2001 LP Souljacker, while “Peach Blossom” does a fine job of customising stadium rock in such a way as to substitute out the grating bombast for wry cynicism and his long-since-established knack for a killer chord progression, but the album cedes momentum the more it’s cast into melancholy.
This is however mitigated by the swaggering call for solidarity of “Stick Together” and spiky, shuffling groove of “You’re My Friend”, the latter of which clears the decks for the elegant “I Am Building a Shrine” to strike an affecting blow for the LP’s gentler side. As with usual with Eels, the weaker tracks aren’t weak whereas the stronger tracks are really quite excellent, so their continued existence is wholly justified. One of those artists who may not feature among your personal pantheon of greats but are nevertheless welcome any time.
Heck, try so much as thinking about “Novocaine for the Soul”, “Flyswatter” or “Mr E’s Beautiful Blues” without spending the rest of the day battling the urge to ‘gravel up’ your voice and burst into song at every available opportunity. Eels are a keeper, alright – and we’re not just saying that out of lamprey-based solidarity.
Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Wonderful, Glorious is out now on E-Works/Vagrant Records. For more information, please visit www.eelstheband.com