Eels: The Deconstruction – Album review

Eels – The DeconstructionEels - The Deconstruction

(E-Works/[PIAS])

Out April 6th

10/10

Eels return with highly anticipated new album The Deconstruction. E doesn’t disappoint with another triumph of an album of immense beauty and tender heart-on-sleeve song-writing revealing his usual mix of melancholia, gritty realism, dark humour and hope for the future unearthing all sides of the psyche.

Like its predecessors, this album takes you on a Sturm und Drang journey of emotions. Ultimately though like his other work, the end message is one of optimism. The fact that E has released so many albums and still has this outlook is incredible based on what life has thrown at him.

The album title describes accurately the journey I went through on listening to these songs. Dissecting and rebuilding all aspects of the human condition. The music is uplifting and life-affirming and feeds the soul as it swoops, rises and falls with ballads, emotional tear-jerkers and upbeat rockers. A quick scan through the song titles on show and you get the picture – The Deconstruction, Premonition, The Epiphany, Today is the Day & You are the Shining Light among them.

Title track and album opener The Deconstruction starts the journey “the deconstruction has begun, time for me to fall apart”. Strings and thumping drums heralding the first steps into this odyssey. The deconstruction is complete on drum heavy Bone Dry where E’s protagonist has been sucked dry. “The reconstruction can only begin when there is nothing left…”

The intricately constructed songs on the album are interspersed with a number of short beautiful instrumental interludes like The Quandary & Coming Back.

Ballad-like songs like Premonition with its beautiful mix of acoustic guitar, angelic backing vocals and heart-felt lyrics belie the melancholic nature of the song giving a real message of hope. “I had a premonition that we’re going to get by….love can never die…we can really live much more than survive”. The angelic choral voices continue in Rusty Pipes, looping a choral refrain and staccato woodwind which to me brings to my mind images of April Showers from Disney’s Bambi.

The Epiphany is just that. Beautiful yearning orchestral strings and a hunger to “go back to those halcyon days” ending with the realisation that “I can’t go back, But I can make today a memory to last”. This leads into one of the albums most upbeat tracks and brings joy and a smile. Today is the Day is about grabbing the opportunity, about new starts about change. Uplifting riffs, and positivity in the lyrics. Today is the day – it starts right here. A similar message to one of my all-time favourite tracks, The The’s This is the Day.

The beauty of the strings and orchestral arrangements on this album continue in Sweet Scorched Earth. The dark humour is here in bucket loads in a story of love, family and togetherness but including barbed comments about our dying planet “we’ll hold on to each other if we fry”.

Another dose of melancholia on Be Hurt before the bounce back You are the Shining Light another tremendously upbeat song – lyrically intelligent and hopeful, musically all handclaps and fuzzy distorted guitar & keyboards. Exhilarating. “Darkest night of the soul/ain’t no reason to quit the show – you are the shining light”. “Now smile – feels good right!”

I Love You – There I Said It, that probably tells you what you need to know about this piano based ballad. Then the all too short lullaby that is Archie Goodnight is achingly beautiful and fades into the last instrumental track on the album The Unanswerable building to a beautiful crescendo of sweet harmonies.

The album leaves us with the almost hymnal vibe of In Our Cathedral with the angelic voices making their final appearance. The song alludes to that place we all feel safe and free – a place we find that we don’t feel afraid. Everyone has their own “cathedral”, our place of safety where we can lock out the world. It’s like we’ve come full circle and where E was falling apart at the start of the album, he has gone through his deconstruction and rebuilding and his metaphorical cathedral is what he has built to protect himself from the world.

I’m exhausted. I don’t think I can express in words how much I love this album. Listening was a roller-coaster of emotions – I went from having tears welling up at moments, to laughing and smiling at the wry dark humour. This album is phenomenal.

Eels are online: website, also on Facebook & Twitter.Mark Everitt

Eels play some UK dates coming in July:
2nd – O2 Academy, Brixton, London
3rd – Manchester Academy
4th – O2 Academy, Glasgow

 

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All words by Neil Hodge. More writing by Neil on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Neil online at his blog thegingerquiff.

 

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