Review Summary: Mark Oliver Everett manages to create another masterful indie album.
Following the release of the groundbreaking indie album 'Souljacker', Mark Oliver Everett, otherwise known as E, hit the studio once more in order to create another album. As always, E worked by himself, hiring other musicians to temporarily fill in for his musical needs. The only other band member present on the whole album, (as well as several others) was drummer Butch, who contributed to various aspects of the songwriting.
While the previous album, 'Souljacker' had featured a varying number of styles, from punk rock to folk, E has seemingly returned to the more laid back styles found on prior Eels works. Acoustic and electric guitarwork is abundant throughout, with many other instruments making appearances. E uses his creative songwriting talents to his advantage once more, creating tunes dealing with the stresses of real life and depression. His rough, gravelly voice is still strangely soothing, with some truly great vocal performances ('Fashion Awards').
Despite many positive aspects, Shootenanny! seems to be a real step backwards from 'Souljacker', reverting back to the indie-folk days of 'Beautiful Freak'. Many of the songs seem as if they were meant to be B sides to a previous Eels album. Some songs just fall short altogether, with 'Restraining Order Blues' managing to bore rather than evoke an emotional response. Album opener 'All In A Day's Work' also fails to impress, with some rather pointless lyrics and a beat that starts to grow tedious. Furthermore, the album seems to drag on much longer than it should, with several of the more ballad-y songs blending together until they are indistinguishable from one another.
Hidden amongst the less interesting songs are 'Love Of The Loveless' and 'Lone Wolf'. Both songs are very catchy and provide great easy listening. Their lyrics seem to both deal with the subject of loneliness and depression, (much like most other Eels songs) yet carry a catchy, jaunting beat that contradicts the subject matter, and helps provide a good, effective listen. 'Fashion Awards' is another stand out tune on the album, containing some very dark, humorous lyrics as well as some haunting guitar and high pitched vocals.
The presence of several good songs does not hide the fact that this album is, in fact, a step backwards for E and his ragtag band of musicians. Many songs provide boring listens, and the album as a whole ultimately manages to be boring and bloated.
-Love Of The Loveless