Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Record label: Cobraside
"I'm getting tired of being complacent," sings Mark "E" Everett on "Bombs Away," the opening track to this 10th studio chapter of a career that often reads better as a narrative than a discography. Channelling "Hey Hey, My My"-era Neil Young in sentiment, it's an odd line to open an album that verifies that complacency is still not something Eels need worry about. .
The tail end of the last decade could easily have felt like a swansong for the man called E. After putting out a greatest hits record and writing a staggeringly sad but life-affirming autobiography, he fired out a trio of albums (2009’s ‘Hombre Lobo’, 2010’s ‘End Times’ and ‘Tomorrow Morning’), in less than two years. After that, E could have been forgiven for putting his feet up.
Given previous single titles such as Novocaine for the Soul, Cancer for the Cure and Souljacker part 1, it’s no surprise that Mark Everett, the force behind Eels, has a reputation as something of a miserablist. Few who’ve read his 2008 autobiography Things The Grandchildren Would Know would begrudge him this, documenting as it does his father’s sudden death at only 51 years old, his sister’s suicide and his mother’s death from cancer. These tragedies have loomed large over much of Eels’ output, not least the astounding 1998 album Electro-Shock Blues which dealt almost entirely with death, loss and grieving.
With a title like this, you could be forgiven for assuming that Mark Everett's 10th album is one of his softer outings. Sure enough, there are lyrics about gifts tied up with little pink bows (Open My Present), the sun shining brightly (Kinda Fuzzy), even an invitation to "open the window and smell the peach blossom" – all delivered in a growl so jittery and aggressive that gentleness is obliterated. He even makes the words "wonderful, glorious" sound sardonic, although there's no missing the gratitude in his tone as he gruffly remarks: "A wretch like me can make it through.
Review Summary: Turn that frown upside downWonderful, Glorious’ opening track, “Bombs Away”, presents itself as a statement of intent. Mark Everett, otherwise known as the pretty much unsearchable ‘E’, is a bundle of passive aggression. Declaring himself “tired of being complacent” he warns his listeners that “the walls are gonna fall.
On his tenth album under the Eels moniker, Mark "E" Everett continues to follow his musical muse wherever it'll take him with Wonderful, Glorious. After so many records it seems like E would be well past the point of any new firsts, but this is the first album to be recorded in his expansive new studio, mysteriously named The Compound, as well as the first album written in collaboration with the rest of the band. This more open, organic process comes through on the songs, providing E and company with a refreshing amount of creative freedom after the relative confinement of doing a conceptual three-album trilogy (2009's Hombre Lobo and 2010's End Times and Tomorrow Morning).
The Eels frontman, E (AKA, Mark Everet), has always been a bit of a downer, and understandably so: after the release of his first album Beautiful Freak, he was blindsided by the suicide of his sister and the terminal diagnosis of his mother. Ever since, he has worked through his grief by means of his music. His mourning was understandably all-encompassing, which often made listening to an Eels album a rather depressing affair.
For over two decades Mark Oliver Everett (AKA ‘E’) has been successfully documenting the ‘horrible’ and the ‘miserable’ interspersed with redemptive bursts of “I’M ALIVE! ALIVE I TELL YOU”, “SMELL THE FLOWERS!” and “LISTEN TO THE BIRDS!”. Alas not without good reason. The tragedies surrounding his life have been vividly documented not only in the now ten albums released as Eels, but the jaw-dropping, life-affirming autobiography Things the Grandchildren Should Know: a ‘you-couldn’t-make-it-up’ picaresque tale of suicide, salvation, cancer, cocaine, beards, booze, MTV, mental illness, spooky kooks in creepy castles, terrorists, divorce, quantum physics and painting “FUCK SCHOOL!” in massive letters over the school entrance.
EelsWonderful, GloriousVagrant Records3. 5 out of 5 stars The tenth Eels record finds its bearded troubadour scowling, “I’ve had enough of being complacent,” and, “Don’t mess with me, I’m up for the fight. ” Why shouldn’t he sound defiant? Eels share a tiny mantel with Nineties rock bands that debuted on post-grunge MTV that are still remotely relevant today.
Mark ‘E’ Everett’s last three albums saw him deliver lyrics that revealed a softer, more exposed side; his 10th album as Eels finds him toughened, battle-worn and defensive. At many points it’s a blunt record, with Everett bullish, his drums sounding live and the guitars crunching off at odd angles. Lead single Peach Blossom alternates between gonzoid riff and dangerously exposed beats, while opener Bombs Away sets out the down-but-not-out mission statement perfectly.
“I’ve had enough of being complacent,” sings indie-rock outcast Mark Oliver Everett at the offset of his band’s 10th studio album, his trademark smoker-cough croon nestled over muted tom-toms, spook-house organs and screeching distortion. “Bombs away!” he shrieks with paranoid, nuclear-fallout urgency, “Gonna shake the house!” On the whole, Wonderful, Glorious isn’t as explosive as that barn-burning opener (“Bombs Away”) may suggest—there’s plenty of dream-pop balladry, swampy spy-theme grooves and psychedelic headphone drizzle scattered throughout. But it feels as raw and immediate as anything Eels have released in nearly a decade.
A life marred with tragedy and spattered with genius; Eels’ Mark ‘E’ Everett is not the average musician. He is a man with a certain unhinged creativity and originality - his work dealing so unabashedly with his own experiences that it renders it particularly unique; and even with a documentary, an autobiography and a prolific recording career under his belt, there is seemingly no let up in his soul searching. Eels’ latest effort, Wonderful, Glorious, features E’s usual abundance of confessionals, his outfit’s backing adding interesting counterpoint to the somewhat grizzled tones of his voice.
Following the bleak lyrical fare of his early work, Mark "E" Everett's 10th studio album as Eels finds him in the same cautiously optimistic mood as on 2010's Tomorrow Morning, singing: "I'll tell you what: I'm in a good mood today." Single Peach Blossom recalls the buoyancy of Mr E's Beautiful Blues, as Everett takes time to smell the flowers atop a flatulently distorted guitar riff. Elsewhere, the defiantly positive On the Ropes is as pretty as anything he's recorded, while the title track somehow conspires to sound like a slowed-down disco number. The high quality isn't sustained throughout, but this is another solidly impressive outing.
Mark Oliver Everett has always done his best work by infecting self-assured rock music with his own debilitating self-loathing. His bleak humor might still be summed up best by the very first line of Eels’ 1996 debut, Beautiful Freak: “Life is hard / And so am I.” Throughout his storied career, the man called E has struck deep notes of both despair and joy in his dance around the construct of American masculinity. Seventeen years and nine albums later, Everett’s newest toothy rebirth Wonderful, Glorious imagines a gruffer persona than we’ve ever seen from him–without actually finding the means to embody it.
For musicianship alone it’s probably one of his best albums for years: blues and country-rock done as only Mark Oliver Everett aka E of Eels knows how, sharing the latest spoils of his songwriting with a versatile new band in ‘Los Feliz’ his Californian recording studio. But it’s the philosophical ramblings that edge it for me: glorious ballads of the heart ‘Accident Prone’ and ‘The Turnaround’ alongside more uptempo and optimistic pieces like the current single ‘Peach Blossom’ and the undisguised joy of the title track. The band handle everything he throws at them with aplomb, and it’s all served up with E’s wonderfully grizzled vocals sounding like some kind of Johnny Cash for the modern-day.
Sad songs with angry words, upbeat sounds contradicted by fierce tones: Eels are back. Jude Clarke 2013 The prolific Mark Everett, more usually known as E, has been writing and recording as Eels since 1996, when debut album Beautiful Freak garnered him acclaim and hits, including Novocaine for the Soul. Between then and now, Eels albums have usually arrived at impressively regular one- or two-year intervals – although four years separated 2005’s Blinking Lights… and 2009’s Hombre Lobo.
‘Nobody listens to a whispering fool,’ growls E, ‘I’ve had enough of being complacent / I’ve had enough of being a mouse / I’m no longer keeping my mouth shut / Bombs away!’ Now there’s a statement of intent if we’ve ever heard one. After 2010’s double bill of ‘End Times’ and ‘Tomorrow Morning’, which saw the Eels frontman in reflective mood - as opposed to angry or self-lacerating - ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ is a return to the distorted guitars-and-vocals primal garage rock of ‘Hombre Lobo’. ‘That was a long, cold night,’ says ‘Peach Blossom’.
Bilal ‘A LOVE SURREAL’. Now that R&B is rediscovering its experimental fringe, with songwriters like Frank Ocean, Miguel and the Weeknd, the time may be opportune for Bilal, a songwriter from Philadelphia who has been on that fringe since the neosoul boom of the 1990s, when he began ….
Now two decades into a career launched by a song about numbing his soul, Mark “E” Everett continues his post as the grief counselor of indie pop. Not many can claim a past as troubled as his—both parents dead and a schizophrenic sister lost to suicide, a relative killed on September 11th—yet still he’s smiling, prolific as ever, and making curious noise in genres like alt-rock and twee where so many artists have sustained themselves being dramatic, sad, and angry for little reason. Everett’s knack for bright melodies, dark themes, and disarming wit, all central to his tenth record Wonderful, Glorious, makes for pop music with a pulse as well as a purpose, come as it does from the last living descendent of a family streaked by genius (E’s father was a quantum physicist) and cursed by insanity.
After nine albums containing well articulated – if occasionally solipsistic - dispatches from the furthest and deepest depths of existential angst, forgiveness would be due to those rolling their eyeballs and expecting more of the same from Eels. Indeed, if any one artist stands as the poster boy for self-doubt, suffering and sadness then it's the band's driving force, Mark Everett aka E. Not that he's blinked when facing down issues of mortality, bereavement and cosmic isolation but E's near monopolising of despair would give even Morrissey pause for concern.