Review Summary: Mark Oliver Everett manages to create another indie masterpiece, punk elements included.
Mark Oliver Everett (otherwise known by the persona, E) is a very talented man, to say the least. He has the ability to create beautifully simple melodies, as well as write emotional, personal lyrics that deal with his decrepit, crumbling life. Being the sole member of the musical collective known as Eels, E has managed to use his musical genius over the years in order to create several memorable indie classics. His fourth album, Souljacker is no different...
Well, maybe a little different. This becomes immediately apparent on album opener 'Dog Faced Boy', which is all distorted guitars mixed with E's raspy, shouting vocals. Indeed, Souljacker contains many harder rocking tunes than on previous Eels albums, with E often raising his voice in order to be able to be heard over the heavily distorted guitar. The prime example of this musical style is found on the closer 'What Is This Note"' where almost rap-like vocals are shouted frantically over layers of crackling distortion.
E's voice, despite not varying in pitch to any degree, has a charm to it. His raspy vocal delivery emphasizes on the fact that he believes himself to be a troubled man. These vocals help conjure up images of lonely pianists in smoky bars playing their hearts out while nobody watches (profound, I know). Lyrics that deal with lost romance ('Friendly Ghost'), lonely characters ('Souljacker Pt. 1'), and depression ('World of Sh*t') help convey the album's generally grim message of all of the troubles in E's life.
Like other Eels albums, there is a great amount of variation to be found here. As mentioned before, there are the punky rockers 'Dog Faced Boy', 'Souljacker Pt. 1', 'What Is This Note"', as well as string drenched indie ballads 'Fresh Feeling', acoustic-folksy tunes 'Woman Driving, Man Sleeping', 'World of Sh*t', and soft rock tunes 'Friendly Ghost, 'Jungle Telegraph', 'Bus Stop Boxer'. Each song manages to be unique in it's own way, with many different instruments being utilized in order to create some type of indie orchestra. Catchiness is never an issue, and even first time listeners will find themselves humming along to the tune of many of the songs here.
Constant variation, excellent songwriting, and beautiful instrumentation help to make this album a near classic. It is a very easy listen, with the catchy tunes appealing to pop fans as well as indie fans. The atmosphere created by Souljacker, that of a depressing, bleak world, is very effective and sparks many emotions within the listener. Go out and buy this right now.
-Dog Faced Boy
-Woman Driving, Man Sleeping
-Souljacker Pt. 1
-Bus Stop Boxer
-World of Sh*t