Sound — 9
I have heard from different sources throughout my years of being an enormous Eels fan, that they don't 'do rock'. Well this album is living proof that are more than capable of it. The introduction of the sleazy and spunky, Dog Faced Boy is a perfect way in which to open an album of ardent and erratic tunes. The following song, with it's tango feel and it's brutal honesty, a trademark of the Eels, is testimony to this records outrageously diverse approach. We then fall into the more classic Eels with Fresh Feeling, an upbeat song with an instant lovable edge to it. The acoustic tapestry that the Eels return to on every album is evident in the potent Woman Driving, Men Sleeping, a song that would not feel to array in an Oasis album. And then the album kicks off. The awesome Souljacker, Pt. 1 contains one of the coolest riffs I have ever heard. It not only pumps the blood around your body at an excitable rate, thrusting you into an uncontrollable, shoulder bouncing groove. It also tingles your sense of appreciation and respect for the writers ability to create true weirdness (that solo) and combine that with catchy, punchy rock riffs! The song Friendly Ghost sounds too similar to the Eels previous, and later material which is a let down, but as the next song appears, you quickly pass it aside. This album is certainly more experimental than Blinking Lights and Beautiful Freak, as Teenage Witch, with it's odd guitar tone and distorted vocals displays. Of course, there's no denying the brilliance of Bus Stop Boxer. There isn't much to say on the rest of the album except that it continues to thrill and antagonize with depressing, but exciting rock songs.
Lyrics — 8
No when it comes to lyrics, the Eels truly excel. There are few bands that can mimic the deep, attentive authenticity that the Eels can formulate. "And pick me out a little piece of ground, Where I can prove something to the world." This is a quote from the song Bus Stop Boxer and is an example of how they are not afraid to write about what they want. In my opinion, this song is about how you can't make something of yourself in a small town. So, if you leave, you can become more than that and replace this life of being a seemingly, worthless, "Bus Stop Boxer". Or you can travel and become something greater. But they ask the question, are you really going to be greater? What could be so much more affluent that being that bus stop boxer? After all, he mentions how much he "dreams about being back home", while at the same time, he doesn't miss it. Or course, someone else's viewpoint could be totally different. "You must not continue to emasculate me, The neighbor children through the window clearly see". This is another example of how he can use different illusions and techniques to deduce certain feelings and images. In this case, he twists the words around to create a feeling of desperation and panic. Which contrasts to the use of the more, uncommon term "emasculate". Eels very rarely use complicated words and it is nice change to see them develop their vocabulary.
Overall Impression — 9
Its hard to compare the Eels to another band, but Modest Mouse would be relatively close to the workmanship of the Eels. Maybe a slight hint of Faith No More, on this album in particular. Of course, you can refer to them as Bod Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Jeff Buckley, Beck and John Lennon enthusiasts, but as I mentioned, it is very hard to pin down a direct influence and an audio comparison. In terms of other albums they have released, it would fit along side Shootenanny! and Beautiful Freak, as they are more 'rocky' and experimental with less of the soft acoustic tunes, intrinsic with Blinking Lights and Daisies of the Galaxy. World Of Shit is more reminiscent of the depressing weirdness of Electric Shock Blues, and is a beautiful piece of work. Dog Faced Boy, Bus Stop Boxer, that's Not Really Funny, Woman Driving, Men Sleeping are all of the best in this album. Souljacker reigns over them all though in my opinion. it's raunchy guitar riff and acrimonious lyrics, is appropriately placed in the middle of the record to drive the album into an exhilarating roller coaster ride! Even the B Sides are awesome with the effortlessly cool and daring Jehovah's Witness. Which is just further experimentation from this enigmatic band. While it's never pointless theatricals, you do feel slightly overwhelmed at times by it's immense array of sounds! Whether it's the slide guitar Mr's E's Beautiful Remix, the fuzz induced bass on Dog Faced Boy, the original lyrics of Woman Driving, Man Sleeping or just the classic, saddening styling of Bus Stop Boxer, there are endless ways in which to thoroughly enjoy this energetic romp. Put it on, play it, jump around like a lunatic while singing along in all sporadic glory.