Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Sill innovative, still relevant
on 6 February 2013
After 9 studio albums, a handful of live albums, a couple of compilations and a whole heap of soundtrack work, Mr E could easily call it a day. He's had such a prolific musical output, not to mention writing an autobiography, making a documentary for the BBC and touring extensively - and he's not even 50 yet. And with all this prominence, and all the great reviews his work gets, Eels are a massively unappreciated group. They seem to have always been that band who 'did that one song that I heard in a movie'. But they're so much more than that. It's so inspiring that E never gave up, but not only has he not given up, he's just put out his best album in years.
Wonderful, Glorious is a beast of an album. It steams ahead at great speed, throwing around a seemingly endless amount of ideas and sounds. The music sounds like an energetic young band's debut album. After E's trilogy, this sounds invigorated with soul, life and freedom. It's not refined by fears and worries. E is more powerful than ever with his full band behind him; the Chet's guitar work is fabulous with beautifully distorted and crunchy chords, Knuckles' pounding, bass-drum-heavy drumming bringing the album real guts. We all know E is a wonderful solo artist, but these guys truly bring out the best in him. I saw Eels in London in 2011, and I was totally blown away by the chemistry these guys had, and they've totally replicated that on this disk. It doesn't sound shiny and polished; it sounds gritty and live, in the best way possible. It's a sort of traditional rock 'n' roll album, but c'mon: its Eels. How traditional are they gonna be? It may be rock 'n' roll, but it's not simply that; it's EELS' own version of rock 'n' roll, so expect E's trademark pipe organs and keyboards to show up, and of course his almost sinister yet dreamy electronic clicks, whirs and wails, which fit somehow perfectly next to the physical instruments. (In this way, some of the album reminds me of my most dearly missed band, Grandaddy who should NEVER have broken up, dammit!)
As well as the album being cohesive and having a wonderful fluidity to it, the tracks work stand alone just as well. You can listen to the whole thing and maybe, like I did, feel a sense of utter joy and catharsis by the end of it. Or, listen to the tracks individually. They work just as well. 'Peach Blossom' is the obvious single of the album, but it's easy to see why. Man, wrap a pair of good headphones round your ears, turn up the bass and volume and you're gonna have an insanely good time with this track. It gave me the biggest goosebumps ever. I've never had such a big smile on my face whilst listening to a song. The smile remained throughout the entire album, but turned into a sad smile with 'I am building a shrine'. Dude, that is a beautiful song. Too beautiful almost. You know when lyrics, a good voice and the music mix together and it almost seems too perfect? That's how I felt with this song. Other songs like 'Wonderful Glorious' brilliantly shake up the formula, with more funk-oriented grooves, highlighting E and the gang's very apparent love of black music of the 60's and 70's. They were right to follow their inspiration. Sometimes, you'll hear a bit of Tom Waits, sometimes you'll hear a 60's pop influence (especially on 'Stick Together'). This influence breathes life into the album.
'The Turnaround' was completely unexpected and to me, sounds unlike any previous Eels songs. It sounds vaguely familiar yet is totally new territory, without implementing any gimmicks or anything. It's a fairly basic but utterly gripping and the song builds upon the stark refrain '6 bucks in my pocket/and the shoes on my feet/the first step is out the door/and onto the street' to great power. It's incredible what these guys can do with such basic ideas. However, a couple of songs take a while to get and feel like perhaps they could've ended up on the (still very worthy) bonus disc. 'You're my friend' is quirky and fun, but sounds a little like a B-Side, and I found 'True Original' a tad forgettable - but hey, maybe a couple more listens and i'll end up loving them. I'll definitely be listening to them a lot this year, as a slightly lesser Eels song is still gold. And this is definitely not a lesser Eels album. This the freshest, most engaging eels album in years.
I am not going to end this review by saying that this album was wonderful and glorious because it's just too damn obvious. Although it is both of those things.