Electro-Shock Blues



by Clumpy USER (29 Reviews)
September 12th, 2007 | 6 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Maybe it's time to live.

Eels - Electro-Shock Blues

"Let me lie on your heart like snow;
Cool and apart
For a moment . . . so . . .

Before the flames start
And the snow melts
And the waters flow

And beneath your lips
Crack the old, eternal,
Impatient whips. . ."

Heaven knows great works come from personal tragedy, turmoil and suffering. A more profound, affecting and altogether interesting emotion than mere angst, turmoil forces some of the most beautiful, sublime and terrible artistic expression out of a human soul.

Electro-shock blues is a beautiful, terrible scream to the heavens. Creative, cynical, optimistic and mournful, it well-deserves its place at the forefront of Eels' work. Some may call it excessively dark, but I see it as a beautiful concept album about learning to deal with disease and death. I'll leave out the particulars, but the timeframe of this album found frontman E at a difficult period in his life.

And out sprang this album. Opener track "Elizabeth on the bathroom floor" begins with the following words: "Laying on the bathroom floor / kitty licks my cheek once more / And I, I could try / But waking up is harder when you wanna die. . ." Hardly the Beach Boys, but, in his crude little way, E and his group tap into a richer reserve of emotion. Throughout the album's main themes of sickness ("Cancer For the Cure"), death ("Going to Your Funeral" Parts I and II, hospitalization ("Hospital Food") and insanity (cheery "My Descent Into Madness", "3 Speed", "Electro-Shock Blues"), the album chronicles the efforts of a man to come to terms with mortality in the face of fatalism, sadness and loss while trying to find himself and his desire to live.

The music is wildly interesting and experimental. From the moment I heard the wonderful major-key transition in "Going To Your Funeral, Part I" I was a convert. Subtler guitar numbers dot the album, providing crucial balance for the rest of the album: the boppy, faux-industral, 60s-style bopper "Cancer For the Cure", classical string accompaniment of "My Descent Into Madness", and the wonderful, subtle, unconfident music box-accompanied title track. This is a very full album.

And it's not all soul-shattering despair, either. Even at its worse, the album's lyrics reveal a certain sense of humor. Among my favorites:

"Life is funny, but not ha ha funny / peculiar I guess. . ."
"Hate a lot of things / but I love a few things / and you are one of them. . ."

Following the rich instrumental "Going To Your Funeral, Part II", the album changes tone abruptly. "Last Stop: This Town" is a catchy, optimistic, almost silly take on grieving. As strange as this sounds, the instrumentation in this track is unparalleled, especially when it breaks apart. Mixing ghetto-blaster beats with an angelic choir and church bells is no mean feat. Eels does it every time.

The second half is more serene, to balance the darker offerings of the first half. Gorillaz knew how to do it as well with their 2005 album "Demon Days". The band nails the resolution on this album and creates a satisfied, content feeling.

After all is said and done, the album ends on an beautiful, life-affirming note, in stark contrast to the album's bleak opening moments: "I was at a funeral the day I realized / I wanted to spend my life with you / Sitting down on the steps at the old post office / The flag was flying at half-mast . ."

And: "And I was thinkin' 'bout how everyone is dying / And maybe it's time to live. . ."

Pick this one up. Nearly ten years later, this one stands the test of time.

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other reviews of this album
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Art doesn’t get much more meaningful than this....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
September 12th 2007


Most of the review is lyrics..

September 13th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Most of the review is lyrics..

That's a pretty lame comment and it's not even true. At several points the music is described very accurately.

This is a good review although you might've gone a little into E's specific griefs - for example, Next stop: this town is about his sister's death.

I used to regularly listen to this album, it's very intriguing, although I think there's a bunch of filler tracks in the latter half of it. But that still leaves 12 or so delicate gems performed and arranged very creatively.

September 13th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I usually don't use parallel sources for my reviews so I didn't catch the meaning of "Next Stop: This Town" except in retrospect .

Yeah, there's a little filler in the second half. I've grown weary of reiterating that complaint in reviews but I'm still surprised that I neglected to include that. I usually write around midnight so there's occasionally some room for editing.

September 13th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Secret Chiefs 3. Nice dig.

September 25th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Ty, check out the review if you like.

January 24th 2009


Eels, Eels, Eels, Eels up inside ya, find an enterance where they can.

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