Album review: Eels surprise with Zen-like songs, optimist lyricism in 'Wonderful, Glorious'
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 23:02
Mark “E” Everett, the man behind indie rock band Eels, has had enough life tragedy to rival Edgar Allen Poe. Suicide, death and cancer have gripped his world, and like any artist, those experiences are more than apparent in his music. Unlike his previous albums, which he filled with his tormented heartbreak, depression and lust, “Wonderful, Glorious” is less ragged.
Expecting 13 tracks riddled with throbbing despair that only Eels could create, it was a surprise to hear the almost Zen-like complacency in the songs.
In “On the Ropes” Everett sings, “I’ve got enough fight left inside this tired heart / To win this one and walk out on my feet / No retreat.” A soft, almost Jack Johnson-like guitar strums in the background with little other instrumentals.
The creepy opening track, “Bombs Away,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Everett’s vocals are deep and raspy, and the lo-fi (low quality) recording is pushed to its limits. The distorted vocals have an odd, honest quality. It’s not pretentious. Its slight optimism isn’t an overkill. From the first track, “Wonderful, Glorious” sounds like real life.
“Kinda Fuzzy” is one of the more fun tracks. The song opens with a funky bass line and has an escalating guitar that sets your head bobbing.
Lead single “New Alphabet” was drawn out of the pack for a reason. Just when you get used to the lo-fi, garage tone Everett creates, “New Alphabet” is thrown in with a more hip-hop backbeat made by the subtle bass line. Seriously, listen close to that bass. The single sounds a lot like Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood” with a garage twist. The heavy guitar distortion rips through the whole track.
“Stick Together” has the best opening guitar riff of the album, accompanied, of course, by yet another great bass line.
Lyricism is by far the best part of “Wonderful, Glorious.” Everett has successfully written uplifting lyrics and then paired them with a melancholy, lo-fi tone. This pairing steers the album away from being overly cheesy or seeming like he is trying too hard, the trap most artists fall into.
“Wonderful, Glorious” is like taking The Black Keys, pushing the lo-fi genre even further and then giving it a heavy dose of funk.