Release Date: Apr 26, 2005
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The backdrop to Eels' sixth album lies in the suicide of frontman E's sister, parents' deaths and a cousin's role as a flight attendant on a fatal 9/11 aeroplane. The record company must have similarly feared for the band's career when E spent eight years between projects working on a hefty 33 tracks, but this may be one of the best albums to have arisen out of grief. Resisting the urge to wallow, he has had the insight to weld some harrowing lyrics to tunes which recall the childlike, hallucinogenic melodies of Brian Wilson at his peak.
Disc one's standouts include the glorious "Railroad Man," a country-ish lament for that quickly disappearing way of life, while "Son of a Bitch," with its elegant saxophones, weepy pedal steel, and stately pace, offsets the painful revelation of the protagonist, "Going Fetal," a new dance tune (à la the Twist) features a vocal sample by Tom Waits and a faux, live rave-up setting fueled completely by a loopy Wurlitzer and a lyric that expresses with true irony the perceived joy of escape. "Mother Mary" is a stomping organ and rhythm-driven track that references reggae and carnival music. Its subject matter is offset by the musical attack and the eerie sound of an empty playground swing weaving its way through the mix.