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However, in the case of Shootenanny! my first impression is that it is a masterpiece to rank alongside Beautiful Freak and Electro-Shock Blues (an album which the Melody Maker derided as unlistenable and then promptly and amusingly went bust). The subject matter of the new album still relates and appeals to the outsider in society, but the music reverts to the melodic pop/rock of Beautiful Freak.
A melancholic, bluesy influence is apparent in the tracks All In A Day’s Work, Agony and Restraining Order Blues, with its repeated plea, "Everybody knows that I'm not a violent man", contrasting with the touching poignancy of the most beautifully realised song on the album, Numbered Days (the equivalent, if you like, to Manchild on Beautiful Freak).
As for Saturday Morning, E has not created a more wide-eyed, childlike, magical vision of the world since Tomorrow I'll Be Nine on his solo album Broken Toy Shop. The Good Old Days is another throwback to E's solo material, exhibiting a gentle world-weariness, while the laid-back, funky Love Of The Loveless is the album's summer anthem. The dry humour which pervades the album is probably best exemplified by Fashion Awards, a satire on the fashion industry.
From the muso's point of view (and skip to the end of the paragraph if this is likely to bore you to death), Rock Hard Times is the most interesting track on the album. The descending bass line which provides the basis for the chorus is first played in the key of B-flat, and later in F, C and G.Read more ›
This album is definitely an improvement on the spiky, mixed bag that was Souljacker. It has some of the catchiest tunes I've ever heard from The Eels (Saturday Morning, Dirty Girl and Lone Wolf being highlights) which are interspersed with beautiful, meaningful melodies such as Somebody Loves You and The Good Old Days. My favourite? Agony, which is one of the most haunting, interesting songs I've heard in a long while.
Why The Eels are not massively popular in the UK where you would surely expect their black humour to appeal is a mystery to me. However, maybe its a good thing as their intimate gigs are a real hidden treasure.
Although it lacks some of the quirkiness and originality of 'Daisies of the Galaxy', it is still one of the best albums around. He experiments with his voice, as well as the guitar and electronics, to give him his instantaneously recognisable sound.
An absolute must for every Eels lover, a great pick-me-up as well as an emotional album, it gets better with every hearing.