Debut 1996 album includes "Novocaine For The Soul" and "Susan's House".
E, the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter with LA band Eels, had already recorded two solo albums before teaming up with drummer Butch and bassist Tommy to produce Beautiful Freak
. Opener and single "Novocaine for the Soul" set the tone: melodic, articulate pop that, like fellow LA musician Beck
, makes startling and inventive use of samples, beats and odd arrangements. The Eels' music takes in post-Nirvana grunge, soul, country, hip-hop, and even jazz, all without sounding derivative; E's intensely personal lyrics are similarly multi-faceted, blending wit, angst, disaffection, and surreal urban detail--as in the mournfully soundtracked cross-city trek of "Susan's House". Throughout the eclectic swirl of musical influence and misanthropic irony the band never lose the ability to craft affecting laid-back pop songs and subtle, naggingly catchy hooks. An inspired album, and that rare thing, an art-house rock record full of memorable tunes. --Burhan Tufail