Eels

The Deconstruction

E Works/PIAS

Mar 30, 2018 Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett Bookmark and Share


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Since Beautiful Freak debuted in 1996, Mark Oliver Everett (aka Eels, aka E) has been crafting quirkily moody pop songs enabling him to hone Eels' eclectic sound into a unique hybrid style that is less a composite of multiple genres and more of an unclassifiable, singular genre unto itself.

Over the course of 11 albums, Eels have traversed a varied musical landscape of powerful, atmospheric and intimate songs that dictate comparisons to the bluesy post-punk of Nick Cave, the raw, emotional energy of PJ Harvey, and even the iconoclastic ruminations of Bright Eyes with a little of the biting wit and wry humor of Cake thrown in for good measure, but always done up with a fresh twist and from a personal perspective.

 

The Deconstruction, Everett's twelfth album, is not much different. These musical explorations are steeped in an emotional intensity and delivered with pleasant melodies and a fervent honesty that may make it sound a lot like other Eels material, but not much like anything else. Somewhat of a rollercoaster ride with peaks and valleys in time signatures and tempos, the 15 tracks on The Deconstruction oscillate between electric and acoustic, occasionally embellished with spooky atmospherics. As E puts it, "Here are 15 new Eels tracks that may or may not inspire, rock, or not rock you."

On the surface, the slower, smoother and simpler tracks such as "Premonition," "Sweet Scorched Earth," and "The Unanswerable" seem to be boring, bare-bones numbers but endear themselves to the listener over time with their gently swirling atmospheric touches and contemplative, candid lyrics.

But it's the more upbeat and electric rock/pop songs that resonate with Eels' intangibles. The title track, along with "Bone Dry," "Today is the Day," and "You Are the Shining Light" howl with slinky bass lines and frisky drum loops and offer rich tonalities with fuzzed-out guitars and jittery keyboards.

Eels have always shied away from the mainstream, and followed their self-indulgent tendencies. But while The Deconstruction gets off to an energetic start with tracks that rock and inspire, ultimately there's too many tracks that don't rock, so it falls a bit short of what Eels are capable of. (www.eelstheband.com) 

Author rating: 5.5/10

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