Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E and the driving force behind the Eels, is back. This time he’s released, along with his shifting cast of musicians, an ambitious 33-song double CD called Blinking Lights and Other Revelations.
There are some noteworthy songs on the new release. “Going Fetal” is a hilarious dance craze spoof that requires the listener to, “just get down under your desk/feels like your mama’s nest.” Tom Waits helps out by doing an eerily convincing baby’s cry and this campy rave up includes handclaps and a simulated crowd noise. Returning to the womb was never so much fun.
“Old Shit/New Shit” is an up-tempo pop piece which features the spooky B-movieness of a theremin and some solid drumming by Butch. This tune proved to be addictive after a few listenings.
I thought I was hearing some creepy Beach Boys’ instrumental instead of “Marie Floating over the Backyard.” What beautiful harmonies though, and good organ work on E’s part. Part of me wondered, is this filler or have I put the wrong CD in and am listening to a movie soundtrack?
Well this sort of is the soundtrack to E’s life. He addresses the loss of his entire family on these discs, although some songs work (“Mother Mary”) and some fail miserably (“Things the Grandchildren Know”).
“Hey Man, Now you’re Really Living,” is an ironic send-up which sounds like it should be sung by a chorus of sixties frat boys in a beer commercial. It’s interesting that a dark stanza is followed by a sincere one. “Do you know what it’s like to fall on the floor/cry your guts out till you got no more,” E sings brightly. Later on we get “have you ever made love to a beautiful girl/made you feel like it’s not such a bad world,” thrown in just to confuse us. It seems like E is always struggling to see bright side of depression and his dark sense of humor is what combats it.
There are some brilliant moments on this new release, but there are also some songs that may have been better left on the cutting room floor. There so much going on this new release that I can’t completely condemn it. Overall, it’s far more compelling than 2003′s Shootenanny.