The other day, I was discussing the Eels with a friend and fellow fan. During the conversation, it came out that, whilst owning all the other Eels records, he had never bought Electro-shock blues. When I asked him why, he explained how he thought that with the album being heavily influenced by the death of E's sister, it would be too depressing for his liking. I initially agreed; it does contain two tracks entitled "Going to you're funeral" after all. But after some thought, I came to see that nothing could be further from the truth.
This is infact a hugely uplifting album. Yes, individually tracks such as "Elizabeth on the bathroom floor" are nothing but harrowing. (E's sister was called Elizabeth by the way) But the album is more about how E came to terms with his sister's death than her death itself, and as such makes for a profound listening experience.
The opening half of the album deals mainly with his grief and anger at what's happened, giving some great musical moments on the way. Then the album turns on the line "You're dead, but the world keeps turning" on Last stop: this town and he becomes more acceptant and reflective about what's happened. But, the main reason why it's such an uplifting album is that it can begin with the line "my life is s**t and p**s", and then end with the line "maybe it's time to live".
Musically, it contains some of E's best work. There is a real diversity of styles, yet all the songs have a distinctive Eels feel about them. There's dissonant Jazz with a Tom Waits feel, accousic lead tracks, and more rocky moments with the odd hip-hop style beat thrown in for good measure! All held together by E's soulful vocal.
My personal Eels favourite, the highlights for me are the lush My Descent Into Madness, the bleak Electro-Shock Blues, the rocky Last Stop: This Town, and the simply beautiful P.S You Rock My World. Highly recommended.