Mark ‘E’ Everett’s last three albums saw him deliver lyrics that revealed a softer, more exposed side; his 10th album as Eels finds him toughened, battle-worn and defensive. At many points it’s a blunt record, with Everett bullish, his drums sounding live and the guitars crunching off at odd angles. Lead single Peach Blossom alternates between gonzoid riff and dangerously exposed beats, while opener Bombs Away sets out the down-but-not-out mission statement perfectly.
Occasionally, this approach doesn’t match the heartfelt sentiment (see the lyrics to both You’re My Friend and A True Original) but, on the whole, this is the sound of a man reinvigorated, happy to be recording and with a dependable, more involved backing band than ever.
It’s also tempting to think of what might’ve been. A Nile Rodgers treatment on the title track would be sublime, its chorus deserving of fluctuating bass; a simplistic, acoustic rendering of I’m Building A Shrine would be heavenly – but it also wouldn’t be the bloody-minded Eels that fans love. On Wonderful, Glorious, it seems the old, curmudgeonly E’s back.