Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Much-respected LA-based Eels have released another alt-rock opus.
The ever-changing lineup are presided over by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Mark Oliver Everett (better known as 'E'). And over the course of five under-appreciated studio albums they've produced some bittersweet masterpieces.
The tone of this two-disc set is on the sombre side, but some intensely eclectic ground is covered over the 33 tracks. Opener Trouble With Dreams sets things on an uplifting tempo, with its trademark electric piano, xylophone and jangly swagger, plus the addition of a few horror movie-like special effects.
Suicide Dreams, despite its heavy name, pits a weary, gravel-voiced Everett against simple piano and is a beautiful Tom Waits-like number. Waits, the gravel-voiced master, lends his croaky larynx to the album's most nuttily upbeat track, Going Foetal, which has a skank in its step. This is followed by the morbid Understanding Salesman, just in case you're feeling too perky.
Bob Dylan-like vocal delivery and folk back-up are at the fore in Railroad Man. And folk gives way to country and western with unhinged rock outbursts on the superb The Other Shoe, with its chorus ('I'll be sitting here/ Waiting for the other shoe to drop').
On disc two, catchy Old S***/New S*** has single potential, while R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck adds his chops on To Lick Your Boots.
This is a sensitive masterwork with hardly a filler in sight.