Wonderful, Glorious

Eels

Vagrant Records, 2013

http://www.eelstheband.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/25/2013

Mark Oliver Everett might be one of the most prolific songwriters of the last couple decades. Following a solo career known under his pseudonym 'E', he joined forces with Tommy Walter (better known as the Abandoned Pools frontman) and Eels was born. Walter's time with Eels was short lived, and after his departure Eels essentially became E and a rotating case of studio and touring players. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Following an exceptional trilogy of concept albums, E takes a different approach with Wonderful, Glorious, the tenth Eels album. Having a consistent band for the last few years has allowed E to let others enter his songwriting process, and it results in a very eclectic and often-louder listen than we're accustomed to. The first track, “Bombs Away,” is aptly titled – this is Eels not holding anything back. “Peach Blossom” solidifies this notion as it shudders with distorted blues rock, and later in the disc, “Open My Present” continues this idea and builds off a memorable, dirty rock riff.

As always, there are plenty of sparse moments, and not so surprisingly they are tinged with sadness. E has often made his private struggles public in song, and this is no different. “True Original” and “Accident Prone” both ache in his inimitable gritty way. However, there is plenty of optimism as well; “Kinda Fuzzy” references the sun shining brightly and “New Alphabet” concerns E altering his ways for the better.

Ultimately a band with a vision all its own, Wonderful, Glorious sounds like a garage rock album open to a lot of experimenting. Fuzzy, charged alt-rock and pensive ballads work well together, as do the electronic noises against the blues, country, and raw, driven rock. All the hallmarks of an Eels album are here – creative, unpredictable, and confessional. Forever known as a tortured genius (and rightfully so considering the tragedies in his life), this installment of E's life might be less bleak but certainly is as luminous as anything he's been involved in.

Rating: A

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