Eels: Wonderful, Glorious (Vagrant Records)
Mark Oliver Everett and his band of sharp suited associates develop upon their now completed trilogy of albums, charting new ground with their latest release: Wonderful, Glorious.
Eels made a recent, triumphant return with Wonderful, Glorious a few days ago. Their latest album features 13 archetypal Eels tracks, which follow the recently established direction of the Hombre Lobo (2008), End Times (2010) and Tomorrow Morning (2010) trilogy. The aforementioned records managed to maintain the tortured introspection which permeated Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005) and Daisies of the Galaxy (2000), whilst developing an upbeat, signature sound which allowed E and the band to explore their blues, rock and experimental sides in more detail.
Wonderful, Glorious is E’s latest collaboration with The Chet and P-Boo on guitars, bass player Koool G Murder and drummer Knuckles. This is notable in itself, especially for a band which has gone through more line-up changes than Guns N’ Roses. This is definitely a beneficial element, as there is a definite sense of togetherness on this album, that of a band who, over the course of touring for a few years, have developed a distinctive and complimentary style together.
This camaraderie is evident on tracks such as Peach Blossom (see below), New Alphabet and the title track itself. A groovier, happier E is a lot more comforting than listening to a man experiencing nothing but despair, as we have experienced previously. It would be presumptuous to suggest that E has exorcized his demons, as there is a desperation underlying the infectious and seemingly poppy choruses; just enough to cast us back to those earlier releases, in which E laid his heart bare so many times.
There is a bit of work involved with Wonderful, Glorious, as it is a far more complex record than it may first appear. A misleading sense of simplicity could elicit dismissal within the impatient, however, the rewards which await those who persevere are plentiful, wonderful and, indeed, glorious.
A fine collection of songs from the man who has, for two decades, survived more hardship than any man should have to bear; it’s a joy to see him come out the other side smiling.