Sound — 9
The title of the new record by Eric Avery, Help Wanted, quite fits it's filling. On his debut album former Jane's Addiction bassist got support from a long list of friends rich for famous names with Shirley Manson (Garbage) and Flea (RHCP) among the others. Over the last few years Avery's been collaborating with anybody -- from Alanis Morissette to Garbage and Smashing Pumpkins. Now it seems he is ready to create something of his own with a distinct sound. The atmosphere of the album is dark and gloomy with only a few major chords shining through. Like those played by Flea on horn in Song In The Silence. They add some mystery to the record -- Flea playing horn is almost as good as Flea playing bass! It seems like Avery tried to fill the album with electronic flourishes as much as possible for guitar music -- multi-layered electronic textures, as well as reverberating sound, are a necessary element of every song. The album is full of weird and unexpected things -- one of them is kids' chorals in All Remote And No Control. One can hardly imagine this kind of thing would fit such a moody album, but surprisingly it all sounds very organic in the mix. Porchlight, apart from other tracks, has the groove, and can even be danceable. It awakes memories of Morcheeba and De Phazz -- an easy-listening track with piano and scratch guitar in the choruses. Being connected by some elusive mutual mood, each track is a separate peace of art, different from the others.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics of the songs -- personal tragedies and social-political thoughts -- make the album sound even darker, though the poetry is not as easy as it might seem. Three tracks on the album are subtitled The Man Who Could Fly, all being parts of one story. They are the key to the rest of the record -- listen to the lyrics and see the album in a totally different, zen buddhism, light. Avery's manner of singing reminds me a lot of Nick Cave -- he's got the same deep baritone rich for overtones. He admits that he's not a great singer, but his voice works with these songs. This is not about singing, but about presenting every track, filling it with emotions and spirituality. In Maybe his rough voice is contrasting with Shirley Manson's surprisingly lovely and fragile vocal. Avery compares it to 1969's duet of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot Je taime... moi non plus.
Overall Impression — 9
Well, from here you can decide if it was worth for Avery to quit the band and start his own project. I'd say it was worth every bit of it -- after his quite imperceptible role in Jane's Addiction, on his solo record Avery appears as a science-and-technology freak, whose head is full of unordinary, very interesting ideas. Each time you listen to Help Wanted, you discover something new -- it is one of those records that grow on you. Talking about the weak points of the album I should mention the CD booklet art -- a bunch of faded pics, something very indescribable about aliens and UFOs. I doubt anybody except Avery can understand what he was trying to say by this. This is by far the only disappointment about the album and it doesn't spoil the impression much.