I came across eels while browsing ('beloved monster' from the film 'shrek' led me to them), and bought the album on impulse. Listening to it for the first time was a wonderful experience. It is brilliant to find something completely new, completely honest and instantly recognisable. Nothing is held back: this music comes from the heart. The lyrics are intelligent, unpatronising and complex, while the music is wonderful, gentle, soothing, melodic. The songs vary from the uplifting ('beautiful freak' and 'spunky' are two of my favourites) to the more gloomy ('flower' and 'susan.') There are songs for good days, and songs for bad days. Every song rang a bell to me, and to find music which is so emotional and beautiful will be refreshing to anyone who just wants to be their own beautiful freak.
'One day the world will be ready for you, and wonder how they didn't see.' (Spunky, track 10)
on 2 March 2006
Why why why are the Eels not more popular? This album is an absolute classic. Go on give it a few listens and see if you dont agree.
Sad, Honest , funny. the lyrics are amazing.
Every song a masterpiece.
Novacaine for the soul is by no means the best.
I cant understand why it was the best known single.
Without a doubt, this is a life and taste changing album and I first heard this album when I was working at a music store. One of the sales assistants put it on the shop's stereo system and it completely stopped me in my tracks. I struggled to concentrate on what I was doing as it was like nothing else I'd ever heard before and, many years later, it still a similar effect. This is one of those unique pieces of work, of genius, that seems to come out of nowhere, has a profound effect on your world and is never replicated by anybody again. Of course, Mark 'E' Everett and Eels (which have undergone a few line-up changes with E being the only ever-present) have gone on to produce a varied, but altogether rather incredible, body of work, but this, for me, remains his most astonishing, vital and exemplary album.
Everett's major label début as Eels has a rather battered, bruised, dirty and downtrodden feel to it, his voice is weary and defeated and there are so many references to the bleak and often cruel, violent world we inhabit, but it is also a magnificently beautiful slice of indie-pop and the darkness running throughout the album always has little chinks of light which sometimes become dazzling and all-encompassing. You could describe most of this album as "radio friendly" and yet it all has an edge which means that it couldn't really be thought of as commercial. It kicks off with "Novocaine For The Soul", the song which made most people sit up and notice. The verses are dark and menacing, the chorus powerful, but dreamy; it is a near-perfect piece of indie-pop. The opening line of the song (and album), "Life is hard/and so am I/You'd better give me something/so I don't die" is an immediate attention-grabber. It's not the best track on the album, in my opinion, but there is something utterly irresistible about it.
"Susan's House" is another superb composition. Joining Everett as he takes a walk to his girlfriend's house, the light, gentle piano motif is a beacon of light, of hopefulness while the stark beat underpins the verses as he negotiates his way through the streets, witnessing death, disagreements and dealers in a richly descriptive narrative. The excellent "Not Ready Yet" records the thoughts of someone holed up in their room, unable to face the outside world. The hesitancy, frustration and the mental illness are all expressed in a beautifully empathetic way. "Flower" is another of my picks (no pun intended) and the fragile, defeated nature of the music and lyrics compliment each other perfectly. "When I came into this world they slapped me/and everyday since then I'm slapped again", E comments sadly, but there are glimmers of hope and strength, meaning that this is no simple pity party. There aren't many better opening lines in songs than on the sublime "Lucky Day In Hell" which starts with "Mama gripped onto the milkman's hand/and then she finally gave birth" and also contains the very funny "Waking up with an ugly face/Winston Churchill in drag". I could go on. Virtually every song is a gem.
In fact, this is one of those truly remarkable albums where you could almost write an essay on each song, let alone attempting to surmise the whole collection of songs in just a few paragraphs. I have only just touched on some of my personal favourites, but there isn't a sub-par song on this album. "Rags To Rags", "Beautiful Freak", "Spunky"... all simply brilliant. One of the reasons this album is something truly special is the inventiveness, the creativity of the arrangements, the instrumentation and the many sonic and emotional textures which run throughout "Beautiful Freak". The lyrics are also outstanding. This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest albums to have ever been released and I wouldn't hesitate, for a moment, to call it as a masterpiece. Absolutely essential.
on 20 November 2007
I don't think to this day you will ever hear any band or artiste like the EELS. What they do so very well is they have a sound of their own, and that sound is full of riffs on the ugliness of life, what it is to be alone, but at the same time has it's sweet and even funny moments. A fantastic example of the rang the EELS have is the song Guest List, a song basically about not being beautiful enough to be on the guest list for a party, "Am I one of the beautiful people?/Is my name on the list?/Wanna be one of the beautiful people/Wanna feel like I'm missed".
The whole album is really beautifully done in an ugly way(not meaning to pun on the album title, Beautiful Freak), in the fact that E's discordant, rough voice, evoking humour, loneliness, and what it is to not be a part of a crowd.
There's so many good tracks on this album, it'd take too long to tell you about them all, and it would ruin the experience. But for me, the track that always gets me right in the chest is Manchild, with it's stark, lonely beauty, sang by E in the voice of a child. The opening guitar on it sounds a bit like Everybody Hurts, like a gently lulling thrum, as he's singing "Every time you crave for me, I'm here/And anything you're hungry for, I'll share/And I will be quietly standing by/While slowly I am dying inside." E knows what it is to be alone; to be in love with a girl who will never return that love and will never be saved, a girl that will forget you as soon as she doesn't need you.
If you've ever felt alone, unrequited and out of step, then I'd highly reccomend this album.
This is quite a remarkable CD. In places, it captures the same bleak mood of Lou Reed's "Berlin" though the subject matter is completely different. Musically there are some similarities too in that many of the songs are more like poems read out to music.
If you are going to present something like that, you need strong lyrics and the ones here are certainly up to it. In particular, "Susan's House", "Beautiful Freak", "Flower", "Guest List", and "Spunky".
Musically, Eels have a lot to say, this album is very original and creative. It's well worth a listen.
on 3 July 2000
I heard about the eels when I heard their single "Mr Es Beautiful Blues" on the radio and so I decided to buy one of their albums. This their debut effort, is fantastic. From the ironic "Novocaine for the soul" to the end this album is full of emotion and soothing melodies. The highlight has to be the title song "Beautiful Freak" for its wondefully moving lyrics. Go buy it you fool!
on 29 January 2010
The thing is with 'The Eels' you either love them or just don't get it. There is something about 'E's' music and lyrics that totally draws certain people in and spits others out. There are many firecely loyal fans that put this guy up there alongside Dylan, Springsteen, Neil Young and others, whilst many people find the Eels plain boring. If you are into rock with melody, songs with stories and thoughtful lyrics and tuneful experimentation, give the Eels a try. This is one of the best albums of the last 15 years with great songs from beginning to end, no filler. 'Novocaine for the Soul' put The Eels on MTV and raised awareness but the album also contains Eels classics such as 'Not Ready Yet', 'Flower' and 'Spunky'. The album is a real grower and every track gets under your skin eventually.
People still talk up U2, R.E.M. and Coldplay. All great bands. However, none of these groups has released an album as good as 'Beautiful Freak' or 'Daisies' or 'Blinkin' Lights' so why hasn't Mark Oliver Everett gone stratospheric?? The man is a genius and I just hope he continues to release great records.
on 10 July 2010
The album starts with a happy sounding plinky plonky tune on "Novocaine for the Soul" but before long an ominous string section comes in to darken the mood.
That's a recurring theme on this excellent album. E tries to look for the bright side but he can't help seeing the darker shades of the world and his life in particular. In "Susan's House" for example a walk through a grim urban landscape is described while the writer tries to keep his mind on a visit to his girlfriend.
There are songs about dark personal themes such as "Rags to Rags" and "My Beloved Monster". Even the touching long song "Beautiful Freak" is couched in slightly unnerving and negative terms.
The song quality varies at times. "Flower" and "Manchild" wouldn't be favourites of mine. However overrall the song equality is excellent even apart from the better known songs like "Novocaine" and "Susan's House".
So probably not an album to listen to when you're feeling down but the music and lyrics are superb and it is are worth listening to over and again.
on 2 February 2005
This is the first album I've bought through amazon links and recommendations. Its great. As someone who is now in his 40's, I'd started to lose the will to listen to the new, but its really difficult not to like this album. The lyrics are sensitive, witty and strangly uplifting, the music is eclectic with loads of influences which, as someone who grew up in the 70's, I could feel comfortable with. Absolutely recommend it.
on 8 November 2004
So amazing, I had never heard of them until a friend lent it to me. great tunes, deep lyrics, makes u think and chill out at the same time. Love the song flower, possibly the best on the album. but of course track 6 (also in Shrek) is fantastic! a household must have!