on 15 June 2005
Mark "E" Everett has had to endure a lot of personal loss and grief over the years. It's always been a credit to him that he's always been able to transform this misery into enthralling and inspiring music.
Blinking Lights may just be his best work yet. Written over the course of seven years, this album more than any of his others offers the scope to cover many of his personal tragedies. As a result, it's a double-disc 33 track sprawling epic, touching upon a number of events in Everett's life, both from childhood, and more recent times.
On the first listen, much of the album washes over you, with many of the tracks sounding vaguely similar. Musically, this is pitched somewhere between the first two eels albums, featuring some of the big tunes of Beautiful Freak, as well as some of the stark minimalism of Electro-Shock Blues, and the auto-harp is prevalent throughout. With subsequent listens, however, the subtle variation of the tracks takes hold, and the album truly opens up to you.
Considering all that's happened to Everett, there's a remarkable optimism here. Going Fetal, Old Shit/New Shit and Hey Man (now you're really living) are genuinely cheery moments, whilst the lilting A Magic World is an inspiration. Meanwhile, the excellent Trouble With Dreams sounds like the lost brother to Flyswatter from Daisies of The Galaxy.
Lyrically, we're on fairly familiar territory, with the wry humour of tracks such as Son Of A Bitch mixed with a charming, almost childish naivety on tracks such as Blinking Lights For Me ("and the doctor in the sky, gonna bring his chopper down, gonna bring me out alive"). As ever, Everett plays the well-meaning, misunderstood outcast very well, just listen to Things The Grandchildren Should Know, and the wonderful Ugly Love ("If she finds me so repulsive, she wouldn't be the first to wretch").
Of course, it wouldn't be an eels album without a great sense of melancholy, and Blinking Lights offers some of his saddest songs to date. If You See Natalie is an achingly beautiful piano ballad, whilst Last Time We Spoke is ominous. Best of all is Railroad Man, a song about losing your purpose in life to the relentless progress of technology.
The whole thing is held together by Everett's worn, earnest vocals, managing to be both deadpan and heartfelt. As a whole, Blinking Lights rarely jumps out at you, and could perhaps do with being five or six songs shorter. But given time, this blossoms into the finest moment of the eels distinguished career.
Key moments: From Which I Came/A Magic World, Trouble With Dreams, Railroad Man, If You See Natalie, Ugly Love
on 17 June 2005
First off, no it's not Electro Shock blues, but nothing else ever will be. No one could write something like that twice and survive. This is bigger. If electro shock is about a bad time in life (most of its songs are about moments and they form part of a strict narrative), this is about life, all of it, vast and rambling. It's an album I've owned for a few weeks now, and I still haven't got my head around it, but it is nothing less than fantastic. Simply put there are few artists out there who could produce a double CD that wouldn't be a simple vanity project; E is one of them.
Highlights are of course Old xxxx/New xxxx, Hey Man (the most uplifting song he has ever written) and Lick your Boots, but it includes many smaller gems in its glittering hoard (If you see Natalie, My Kind of Love and the finally Things the Grandchildren should know).
This album deserves that the listener put the effort into listening that E put into making. Given that, it is brilliant.
on 10 January 2010
'Blinking Lights And Other Revelations' is a sprawling 33-song album, spread over two discs, that deals with love, loneliness, religion and twenty first century confusion, as told by Eels' leader, E. To put it simply, this is the ablum most Eels fans had been dreaming of, ever since their debut, 'Beautiful Freak' was released back in 1996. But this is a long way away from Beautiful Freak. Infact, E's sound never stopped changing and developing since Beautiful freak, as he switched from the dark and stripped sound of 'Electro Shock Blues', to the simple and beautiful melodies of 'Daisies Of The Galaxy'. Next were 'Souljacker', then 'Shootenanny', two albums which sound as if they were from two different bands. Then along came this album, which is sort of an accumulation of his past strengths and sounds, to created an almost perfect, epic album, whose own style and sounds alternate from simple, acoustic and haunting, to more lively, alt-pop anthems. Suffice to say, whatever your appetite for genre, this album should satisfy. There are huge folk and blues undertones here, displayed perfectly in songs like 'Railroad Man', a gorgeous track that harks back to the simplicity and joy of freedom, the feeling of having no possessions and no responsobility, just yourself, and the traintracks. The poppier songs come up occasionally, but never sound conventional 'radio' hits. They're still odd-ball, wacky songs, clearly sung by a 40 year old bearded guy whose letting loose, and looking at the beauty in the world. A perfect example is 'Loosing Streak', and almost impossibly joyful, song, that's very difficult not to smile at, to say the least. E keeps the beats simplistic, the melodies complex and the lyrics deceptively simple, always laden with dark humour and wonderful imagery. Just try and listen to 'Blinking Lights (for me)' and not get E's spectacular visuals swimming in your head. The lyrics tell stories of what seems like, many different people. The way i'd describe the discs is as a city: a diverse, modern city, that still has a few old 1950's building left standing, and areas of green. It's a city of fear and loneliness, whilst occasionally being one of joy and fleeting beauty. We get 3 minute views of the crazy people who walk the streets, the middle aged divorced men who live in the apartments above the street, the young couples in love and the cars and inanimate objects who have history, who make the city. The music says as much as the lyrics here, and sometimes you are forced to create your own stories to fill in the gaps. There are several short instrumentals, which are equally important and wonderful as any of the other tracks. There is simply so much to say about this album, there are so many inspired segments, and imaginative instruments and sounds. So many emotions and places to see. It's like a great city again in this way: you can't quite describe it, you just have to see it. And I hugely reccomend you do listen to this album; it is one of the greatest achievments in not only alternative rock, but in modern music.
on 26 April 2005
E has produced a fine mellow album that touches at the human soul. I was prepared for an epic, six years in the production, wrought with angst over family deaths journey. Instead it's lighter & dreamier, the lyrics suggestive, but not explicit. Clocking at 78 minutes, it could also be squeezed on a single CD. Well worth the wait and well worth a few listens to fully appreciate.
on 28 April 2005
After Shootenanny, which I personally feel is their worst album to date, lacking the immediacy of Beautiful Freak or Daisies of the Galaxy, the sheer unadulterated excellence of Electro Shock Blues or quirky, fuzzy rock sensibilities of Souljacker, I was concerned as to how this one would turn out. I needn't have been, the latest Eels album is a triumph.
From the toe-tapping catchiness of Going Fetal on disc one and its compatriot Hey man (Now You're Really Living) on disc two, to the melancholy of 'If you see Natalie' the double album is packed with excellent and catchy tunes.
On the flipside, there is a lot of what could maybe be described as 'filler' and some of the songs may sound extremely familiar to Eels fans. I admit to getting a feeling of de ja vu when listening to Blinking Lights, certain tracks seeming to echo songs present on other older Eels albums. Overall however it's only a minor issue and not enough to detract from a truly excellent album.
This has been described elsewhere as E's masterpiece and for once it's right to believe the hype.
on 28 April 2005
This album has definitely been worth the wait. I loved Souljacker but found Shootenanny to be a bit of a let-down. When I heard that Tom Waits was contributing to Blinking Lights, it was like all my birthdays and christmasses had come at once.
It may not be to everyone's taste though and I would recommend that you begin with one of the earlier albums such as Daisies. Eels make quite a unique sound and some find their style to be inpenetrable.
However, to those who persevere, I can say that this is one of the best balanced and sublimely beautiful musical works I have heard in a long time.
on 30 April 2005
A number of reviews that precede mine have already addressed how "Blinking Lights..." compares and rates within Eels discography, so I will not even attempt to do that since I could not do it better nor offer much of a different opinion.
What I do want to share here, because the power of its music took me there without much of a choice on my part, is how this album stands so firmly and beautifully on its own, and it takes Eels music even farther that it has managed to go so far.
You've probably read already about Eels' "E" Everett's tragic family losses -her mother and sister dying within a short frame of time several years ago, her sibling by committing suicide- and about this double album being a diary of sorts of his coming to terms with these events, written and worked on for close to seven years.
I assume that some people -whether out of empathy, solidarity or morbid curiosity- may have been attracted to this music given reports of his mental fragility and their love for this man's music. In my case -nothing I'm necessarily proud of- when it comes to any art form, the artist's life is secondary: neither something I believe to predict the beauty or value of their work, nor a guarantee of depth because their subject is apparently serious.
Bottom line, I want to hear someone who can say something ... anything -that although very personal- has the capacity to be relevant to my life and help me learn something about the world that I was too busy or too dense to have noticed by myself. In other words, I don't want to read someone else's "journal" but make more sense of mine.
This is where Everett has succeeded so much. Whether you've been through similar or so much grief as he has or not, this music is going to educate your heart and bless you with some of the most moving songs you may hear all year.
As he sings on "The Trouble With Dreams," "the problem with dreams is that you never know / when to hold and when to let go," yet Everett chose, perhaps, the hardest path: to take on every dream and find out which ones keep close and which ones he was ready to say goodbye to.
In that sense, these songs, at times, may be somber but not depressing. There's no wallowing in pain but a diary of personal healing. Honest and sad, hopeful and tender, Eels' songs make his experience matter to anyone human and willing enough to hop on for the ride.
Musically, you can expect the depth and variety he's already shown in past albums: hushed folk confessions, gorgeous pop moments, timely strings and disturbing passages. All in all, this is further proof of Everett's impressive musical breadth and remarkable depth of feeling.
Even if you are a long time fan of Eels, "Blinking Lights ..." is bound to hold surprises for you. If not new sounds perhaps, there will certainly be special moments, where the vulnerability, candor and courage of these songs will take you over, and leave you seeing with new eyes.
on 30 April 2005
Yes, this album is genius, like most of the stuff E does. Just a quick point about the main Robert Burrows review: 'Going Fetal' is full of hopeful optimism? A song about curling up into a ball to die?!? One of the best things on the album should not be so heinously misunderstood.
Anyway, buy this if you like good music with a man singing and instruments playing and words that mean things when interpreted by your mind.
on 29 April 2005
I was a huge Eels fan after their first release "Beautiful Freak". However, their subsequent albums lacked the originality and flair of the debut. I was not sure about purchasing "Blinking lights and other revelations" as I had not heard a single song from it. All I can say is that it the *BEST* Eels album ever. The craftmanship and querky lyrics that marked them out in the mid 90s are back, as are the melancholic melodies. If you love Eels then you'll love this. If you've never heard anything by them before, buy this... it is an essential addition to any eclectic rock collection.
on 21 February 2006
"Blinking Lights..." was the first Eels album I heard, about half a year ago. I now own all the Eels albums.
Eels are great for two reasons: 1) Mark Oliver Everett (a man often called E); a wonderful songwriter, with passion and honesty. His gruff but warm voice captures the emotion behind every song. 2) the rest of the band, which in this case is Kool G Murder, Chet, Puddin' and Butch; four guys who help E add rich, gorgeous texture to his songs.
String ensembles, hammond organs, slide guitars and even a musical saw all appear on this record. It has a sound to it that the other albums don't have, and in my opinion, it has an intimacy that no other album EVER has achieved. Beautiful songs such as the country-tinged "Railroad Man", piano ballad "Ugly Love", the haunting "If You See Natalie" and the heart-warming closer "Things The Grandchildren Should Know" are honest and from the soul, these are E's best moments. The more upbeat tracks; "Going Fetal", "Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)" and "Trouble With Dreams" provide contrast and variety, making the album an always captivating listen.
On "Blinking Lights..." E appears to have perfected his craft and made the album he was born to make. For fans of quality music in general, as well as those of you who love songs that come from the heart (and with a twist of irony and humour so not to make proceedings too gloomy), then I recommend this album highly. It made me an Eels fan for life, and I hope it does the same to you.