This is a slow burner of an Eels album. Initially, you wonder if Mr E will ever get back to the heights of Blinking Lights, following the slightly underwhelming trilogy of Hombre Lobo (especially disappointing), End Times and Tomorrow Morning. But rest assured, with this one he does, once you allow it to settle in and make itself at home.
It’s a more ‘rock’ album than we’re used to, confirmed by the current live set, which features just about all of it, and just about all of its personnel, and which is played loud. But E’s gift for tunes is undimmed beneath the volume, along with his gift for the arresting lyric. You can see all that encapsulated here in The turnaround, one of the best things he’s ever done: the closing, ascending, repeated ‘Six bucks in my pocket…’ motif will have you out of your seat. And it’s not the only highlight: the title track, the album’s closer, repeats his custom of ending albums on an uplifting note – as it ends the main part of the live set. There are others, but you don’t want a list of tracks you haven’t heard. Hear them!
I bought the ‘deluxe’ edition with the bonus disc, and just for once, you get a bonus disc that’s really worth having: four studio tracks, including I’m your brave little soldier, which features in the live set, and some very worthwhile live cuts, especially the storming version of Prizefighter, which is also currently featuring. I’ve played it almost as much as the ‘real’ album. But not quite. E on the ropes? Not a bit of it. This is a great American artist at somewhere near the top of his game.