Sound — 10
Eels aren't exactly the most hard rocking band on the planet. And therefore you may ask why there is a review of their album here, on a website for guitar players. Well Mark Oliver Everett is a guitarist. And although he doesn't play anything complicated, his use of simple melodies is well overlooked. So you can deny all you want on whether or not they belong here, in my opinion they do and they fit into a bracket that is totally sidetracked. Their sound is imaginative and experimental, combining basic guitar melodies over creative synth backdrops. Their mysterious and eccentric sounds are perfect for a night of feeling depressed and emotional. But don't get the wrong idea, this is not an "emo" band. It is a solid rock band, through and through. The song Rag to Rags is an excellent rock song with classic AC/DC power chords and simple but effective solo that climbs to the higher notes in a gentle and secretive manner. Thus enhancing the lyrical, "There's a spider on my right eye." It almost feels like a spider crawling suspiciously up your leg and eventually staring you the eye as the climax of the song arrives. There is many piano and other instruments used in this recording, which is reminiscent of David Bowie and Beck. Yet it still maintains it's raw roots with influences of Bob Marley and Dinosaur Jr present. The writers behind the Eels are amongst the most powerful song writers since Bob Dylan, The Smiths and Radiohead, in my opinion. The way they create such a sensation of consternation with such limited recourses is awe inspiring. The simple guitar lines of Not Ready Yet and the efficacious way he lurches into the chorus is a true display of simplicity as it's most complex.
Lyrics — 10
Mr Everett is a lyrical genius. There is no other way of putting it. He is one of the only artists who can be so blunt and get away with it. The line, "So if I leave my room, Don't you tell me to lighten up, Maybe sometime sooner or later. But I don't think I'm ready yet," is a thorough testament of how he can overshadow your own disabilities in life and yet, at the same time sympathize with your own failings and inadequacies. The brutal depiction of the boy dead in Susan's House and the young girl is disquieting and unsettling. But he does it in a such way that you feel sorry for the young characters in discussion, but also a feeling of anger against the people behind what has happened bubbles forth. There is no doubting that the lead singer isn't among the best, but neither was Bod Dylan! That should say enough. Although his lyrics are extreme and out of the ordinary, you still feel a connection to it and sympathy for him. "I wish I had a walky talky, That I could reach to God every night."
Overall Impression — 10
Overall this is one of the best albums I have ever owned. I would place this album in my top ten for many reasons. First due to the fact that every single song is brilliant. Not only is there not a single trace of boring material in there, but also that all the songs are artistic in their own little ways: the simple, cute melody and lyrics behind My Beloved Monster with it's fuzzy guitar chorus. The synth like bass line to Mental with it's lyrics interlinked with the writers constant battle with depression and mental illness. And the innocent sound of a children's piano in the song Spunky. The way Mark can instantly administer a dose of sadness and emotion into your life, helps you understand that your existence may not be as awful as you first suspected. There are other people that are worse off than you. there's always someone worse off than you. Also that sometimes it's not the surroundings that decide how happy or successful you are, but your own mental state. There are subtle hints of The Doors in the Eels along with Jeff Buckley, Beck, Joy Division, John Lennon and others. There is never a point where you say, "I wish he had stopped the song there." Or "I wanted another chorus there." It is perfectly crafted, and yet still raw in it's emotional intensity and it's pertinence.