Two decades into his career and Mark “E” Everett seems as prolific as ever. Following his 2009-2010 trilogy (Hombre Loco/End Times/Tomorrow Morning) comes Wonderful, Glorious another collection of personal, yet, somehow universal songs that have their roots in tragedy and despair but still offer up hope.
E’s traumatic life story is relatively well-known (the deaths of his mother, father and sister) and when 2010’s Tomorrow Morning was released, it seemed that he had come to grips with his past and was ready to move on. It was down-right uplifting. That mood continues on Wonderful, Glorious.
The line-up in the Eels has coalesced into a fairly stable unit and so Everett has written this album (well, all but one track) with the help of The Chet (various instruments), Knuckles (drums), Koool G Murder (bass) and P-Boo (guitar). As you can see, E has a penchant for nicknames.
Despite the collaborative writing process…essentially jamming in the studio, this is standard Eels fare…no major musical surprises.
Bomb’s Away starts things off with percussion and squeaky electronics. E’s vocals are slightly distorted and slightly unhinged as he demands, “I will be heard”. The twangy guitar is a nice touch.
On Kinda Fuzzy, he notes that, “I’m always trying to find my way” and further on, “the future looks bright, don’t mess with me I’m up for the fight”. Meanwhile the music vacillates from passive to aggressive.
The mellow Accident Prone marries downbeat music with an upbeat lyric while the first single, Peach Blossom features a big, distorted riff and a classic Eels melody.
One of my faves is On The Ropes. It begins with a delicate guitar figure, soft percussion and a restrained, more intimate vocal sound. “I’m hurting bad and fighting mad, I’m not knocked down but I’m on the ropes” he sings.
Another highlight is Stick Together with its big rock guitar intro and simmering drum beat. “It’s me and you taking on all comers”, E declares.
E has always mixed the tragic with the heartfelt, but never more so than on I Am Building A Shrine in which he envisions his own death, but looks at the bright side, thanks to “all the little things I’m taking with me”. The result is a moving, yet somewhat creepy love song.
So, yeah, Mark Everett is still in the ring, fighting the good fight. On Wonderful, Glorious, it looks like he’s winning.
Click here to listen to Stick Together from Wonderful, Glorious: