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great songs, where's the band?
on 5 January 2010
Bit of a frustrating one this. The songs are as up to the usual Eels standard, and I like the way the slow, ruminative tracks alternate with the harder, rockier numbers.
The thing that holds the record back though is the (apparent) absence of a live band, particulary on the heavier songs. It seems that E has succumbed to the same temptation that has, in the past, preyed on other genius auteur singer-songwriters (think Paddy McAloon on Prefab Sprout's latest, or even Jeff Lynne on the faux ELO album 'Zoom') - that is he's suddenly decided that he can do it all himself and still have it come out as good. Unfortunately, that's not the case
Previous Eels records have always had a live band ambience at their core, and this proved particularly successful on the harder rocking entries in their catalogue (eg Souljacker). E has clearly underestimated the power and feel that a live drummer can bring to the table, and many of the songs on this new opus sound like they've been layered on top of quantised drum-loops. It robs them of their earthiness.
The previews of the new, up and coming Eels record suggest that we should expect more of the same, which I for one am sorry about. Let's hope E shakes off his solitary mood soon and gets rocking with the boys again.