Mark Oliver Everett unleashes another album from his creative cellar and as usual it’s the trademark Eels sound tweaked ever so slightly to provide a unique atmosphere to proceedings. If anything it’s marginally less accessible than standard. The songs still have that DIY feel, the voice is increasingly gravelly, but the instrumentation flirts with electronica and the occasional burst of a drum machine. It reminds me a great deal of REM’s underrated ‘Up’ album with the production and themes applied to Eels Man rather than Stipe.
This is Everett in introspective mood, but with none of the full scale depression. It’s jaunty, upbeat and catchy at times, but the electronic elements are sometimes at odds with his organic snaggle toothed tonsils. Unusually for an Eels album some of the tracks descend into irritating territory with ‘I’m a hummingbird’ and ‘Baby Loves Me’ the guiltiest offenders. Fear not however, this is nothing like MC Honky. It’s more like a cross between the out-takes album Useless Trinkets, Beautiful Freak and Blinking Lights which sounds great in theory, but is ultimately a little underwhelming.
Everyone knows that bonus discs are always rubbish, but in this case it pulls the whole show around. The pick of the tracks are featured on the Bonus EP with ‘Let’s Ruin Julie's Birthday’, ‘Swimming Lesson’ and especially ‘For You’, all absolute crackers. From the main disc, only ‘Spectacular Girl’ will pass the test of time, and if I’m being generous ‘This is where it gets good’.
It’s a step up from Hombre Lobo, but don’t expect a classic Eels album. It’s chirpy, semi-electronic fun and if you’re an Eels fan it does what it says on the tin. If you don’t already love him, (and let’s face it who does?) don’t expect a Road to Damascus moment from ‘Tomorrow Morning’.