Sound: It would be hard for me to explain how this album sounds in brief. It kinda sounds like U2's Pop/Achtung, Baby! era, crossed with Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy" period. If people knows the music of those particular albums, they'll know what I mean. The album isn't technically advanced as such, and is laden with various electronics and effects. Drums/percussion seems to be an instrument that has taken the back-burner when compared to digital fx and keyboards - saying that, the majority of the drums also sound electronic and could be programmed. Guitars aren't highly used either. So yeah, it's easy and fair to say that the vocals and keyboards dominate this one.
The sound does feel as though it lacks the technical sophistication of 'A Line In The Dirt' or 'Gone Man' from End Times, but that's the charm of Eels. The music is so simple, only being extravagant when it's called upon. 'Looking Up' (the new single from Tomorrow Morning) maintains this little 'extravagance', but the album does not flaunt it any further than that. But maybe that's just the charm of Eels? E is renowned for his simple song-writing and his band's simple playing. If that's what you're expecting, that's what you're going to get... but more electronic (I mean that loosely, not as in drum + bass/dance music). // 7
Lyrics: E isn't a highly skilled singer, it's fair to say. His vocals aren't particularly powerful or inspiring. But would he have got this far if his style of singing didn't mean something to somebody? Of course not. It's that "Eels Charm" again, but on a different level. The guy's no tallented singer, but there's something about him that draws people in. Like Johnny Cash? I guess so. I'd say his lyrics are better than his vocals personally. In terms of their dynamic towards the music, they're perfectly written. In terms of how well thought-out they are, they outshine most of the trash that people put out there nowadays ("I love you. You're nice" Blah, blah, blah... You get the picture). I wouldn't say he's prolific as such. But he is a seemingly careful writer when it comes to his lyrics. I think that shows. // 8
Overall Impression: It's said that good stories are to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Eels have finished their trilogy with this album (the "beginning" and "middle" being Hombre Lobo and End Times). Eels had set themselves a real challenge when it came to this album - and it's two predecessors - especially when you consider the short amount of time they'd set themselves for these releases (all three were released within about 2 years). I'm not a massive follower of Eels, but I've heard bits here and there. The material on here does kinda follow suit with their usual kind of stuff (but, as mentioned, with a little more keyboards/loops thrown in). You know what you're gonna get. // 7
- Anthony Bentley (c) 2010