Review Summary: There finally seems to be some sunshine in E’s life.
Founding and only permanent Eels member Mark Everett – best known by his stage name E – has an interesting method of writing lyrics for Eels albums. For the past 18 years, Eels has functioned as his outlet for venting any personal crisis he may encounter, but what makes E different from other tormented singer-songwriters is that he prefers to treat each Eels album as a new entry into a personal journal, documenting and charting the progression of his current emotional state in the present rather than dwelling on the past for inspiration. Having concluded his anguished trilogy of concept albums about lost love and lust in 2010, Eels’ tenth album Wonderful, Glorious
gives the impression that things just might be looking up for E at this point in his life.
At its core themes, the subject matter of Wonderful, Glorious
doesn’t differ too much from other Eels albums despite it being lighter than the heavy intent on End Times
. He’s still singing about coming out of his shell, but this time he actually sounds confident and determined on taking action as opposed to just frustrated. It’s really all in E’s delivery, as there isn’t anything exactly like the sorrowful indie rock brooding sessions of Tomorrow Morning
to be found on Wonderful, Glorious
. He actually sounds in high spirits, upbeat, and even perky. It’s as if he’s taking some real enjoyment in jamming the music that supports his passages, and having fun involving his band of rotating members into the composing process more than ever before.
While there could be more variation in the lyrical themes, the musical textures on Wonderful, Glorious
vary marvelously throughout the tracks. It’s typical for an Eels album to focus on E more than the music, but here, just as much attention is given to the continually surprising and creative explorations that take place on Wonderful, Glorious
. This time around, E has kept Koool G Murder on bass guitar and Knuckles on drums just as it was on Tomorrow Morning
, and he has brought in both The Chet and P-Boo for a double guitar backed force that helps Eels churn out rugged jams that produce a hard-edged rock sound that’s uncommon for indie rock.
“Bombs Away” and “Kinda Fuzzy” delve into scratchy and fuzzy wails of guitar distortion that sound jazzy being paired with petite electronic shims. “New Alphabet” is just downright noisy blues, “Peach Blossom” would make The Black Keys blush, and songs like “True Original” and “The Turnaround” outright abandon these tones and go for the more blissful and atmospheric ballad like approach.
Its tonal shifts aren’t too consistent, and its lyrical and musical themes could be more cohesive as a whole, but Wonderful, Glorious
shows a brighter and more positive-thinking change in direction for Eels overall. For the sake of E's mental well-being and emotional condition, that’s a change that should be encouraged and supported further.