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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | Geffen*

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Eccentric and quirky are the best ways to describe the Eels' debut effort, Beautiful Freak. Concise pop tunes form the backbone of the album, yet tinges of despair and downright meanness surface just when you've been lulled into thinking this is another pop group, as titles like "My Beloved Monster," "Your Lucky Day in Hell" and "Novocaine for the Soul" indicate. All in all, Beautiful Freak is a satisfying first record. ~ James Chrispell

Alternative & Indie - Released June 1, 2009 | V2 Cooperative Music


Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Geffen

For Eels fans, and especially those obsessed with Mark Oliver Everett, the man who created and fronts the ever-changing lineup as well as writing its songs, 2008 kicked off anything but quietly. Despite a mere six studio and one live record in the band's catalog, E and Universal/Geffen have issued what amounts to a truckload of backlog material on two separate -- some would say excessive -- releases: Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006, Vol. 1, a CD/DVD package, and Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities, and Unreleased 1996-2006. The latter includes two discs of music and a live DVD documenting the band's 2006 Lollapalooza performance. Meet the Eels is, arguably, the way a "hits" compilation should be presented, to fans as well as the merely curious. It's loaded to the gills with 24 cuts that include the unreleased "Get Ur Freak On." The rest of this monster is culled with cuts from Beautiful Freak (four) Electro-Shock Blues (two), plus an unissued remix of "Climbing to the Moon," by Jon Brion.This decade gets the lion's share of the material naturally, with four tunes from 2000s Daisies of the Galaxy, and a trio off 2001's Souljacker; a pair of tunes were tacked on from Shootenanny! (still the most confounding toss of the band's history), and a whopping five from Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. The latter was the band's best-selling record and yet it's still debated hotly among fans. One thing is for sure: for the first time since Beautiful Freak it drew new listeners in droves. Also included here for some unfathomable reason is "Dirty Girl," from the Live at Town Hall offering, and luckily, "I Need Some Sleep," from the soundtrack album for Shrek 2. Right, you guessed it, nothing here comes from A Man Called E, making it an incomplete Everett document, but it's close enough. Simply put, there is no reason to go into the track choices, they are listed below and can be debated endlessly anyway. This tri-fold digipack is loaded with photos, E's own elliptical annotations for the tracks, and a wonderfully long and now legendary piece by Mark Edwards from the Sunday Times in London. Some of E's notes are clever, and some seem just plain tossed off, as if they are memories he really doesn't have any longer but needed to get down on paper for this. That's OK -- his very natural ambivalence is part of the appeal in his idiosyncratic, adventurous, and original songs. The DVD contains virtually every video the band shot and released for commercial play; they are compiled and available as a retail item for the first time. As great an introduction or mix the CD makes, it's the video collection that makes it all worth the cash. Given the kitchen sink approach of it, it offers an even more diverse and undebatable document; showcasing everything from original conceptions by directors to the escalator to the oblivion lineup changes. There is simply no better way to get acquainted with an enigma. ~ Thom Jurek

Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2010 | V2 Cooperative Music


Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | Vagrant Records


Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Universal Music Division Polydor


Rock - Released January 1, 1988 | Geffen*

The Eels' second release, Electro-Shock Blues, is a much darker album than their underrated debut, 1996's Beautiful Freak, but just as rewarding. Singer/guitarist/songwriter E experienced many upheavals in his personal life between albums (the passing of several family members and close friends), and decided to work his way through life's tribulations via his music. The result is a spectacular epic work, easily on par with such classic albums cut from the same cloth -- Neil Young's Tonight's the Night, Lou Reed's Magic and Loss. For some of the most introspective and haunting tunes of recent times, look no further than the title track, "Last Stop: This Town," and "Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor." And although the lyrics deal almost entirely with mortality, the music for "Hospital Food," "Cancer for the Cure," and "Going to Your Funeral, Pt. 1" is comparable to Beck's funky noise, while "Efils' God," "The Medication Is Wearing Off," and "My Descent Into Madness" are all ethereal, soothing compositions. One of the finest and fully realized records of 1998, a must-hear. ~ Greg Prato

Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

On 2003's Shootenanny!, Eels frontman and songwriter Mark Oliver Everett seemed to approach his work with fresh ears. He cut through his own trademark lyric and production excesses (very evident on the wonderfully messy and rocked-up Souljacker) and came up with an offering of quirky, sparking tunes that were shot through with American roots music and his trademark power pop hooks, while never compromising his stubbornly iconoclastic way of looking at the world. The same cannot be said for Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. Over 90 minutes and 33 songs, E opens his own, personal Pandora's Box and lets everything out musically, lyrically, and emotionally. This is the most searingly personal album E and his ad hoc stable of cohorts have recorded since Electro-Shock Blues -- though it's not as unremittingly dark. The handsomely designed double digipack is adorned with familial photographs -- including a cover shot of his mother as a child. Strings, brass, tinkling bells, and gauzy layers of sonic textures stream through these haphazard songs. In fact, despite the appearance of family, childhood, changing times, and other concerns of personal narrative, Blinking Lights is not a unified album; its tunes are gathered seemingly willy-nilly conceptually. No matter; it is E's world-weary voice that holds the disparate parts of the album together in a loose, soft web that envelopes him and the listener. It sits dead center, allowing the tensions, textures, and moods to grip and release him at will. He expresses it all honestly, without immersion or unnecessary put-on detachment. It is his voice that gives the record a type of spiritual quality, one that seems to gauge lessons learned -- either with acceptance or rejection -- from the various truths revealed. Family and history are woven together over the entirety to create not only introspection but a sense of time's slippage, emotional and physical displacement, and grief that is offset in places by poignant humor. Disc one's standouts include the glorious "Railroad Man," a country-ish lament for that quickly disappearing way of life, while "Son of a Bitch," with its elegant saxophones, weepy pedal steel, and stately pace, offsets the painful revelation of the protagonist, "Going Fetal," a new dance tune (à la the Twist) features a vocal sample by Tom Waits and a faux, live rave-up setting fueled completely by a loopy Wurlitzer and a lyric that expresses with true irony the perceived joy of escape. "Mother Mary" is a stomping organ and rhythm-driven track that references reggae and carnival music. Its subject matter is offset by the musical attack and the eerie sound of an empty playground swing weaving its way through the mix. The second disc begins with the elegiac yet shimmering "Dust of Ages," which feels like a demo from Peter Gabriel's second album. "I'm Going to Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart" is gem-like pop/rock balladry, while "Dusk: A Peach in the Orchard" -- co-written with the Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian -- is a modern folk song that comes from the broken heart of memory, and could have been written during the Civil War era. R.E.M.'s Peter Buck co-wrote and performs on the ironic "To Lick Your Boots." The set closes with the bittersweet personal testament "Things the Grandchildren Should Know." It's unfocused and leaky lyrically, but it gets to emotional places most songwriters only dream of. Blinking Lights and Other Revelations is blessed because of -- not in spite of -- its excesses. It's not like anything else out there right now. It makes no apologies, it's shaky in places, and there are cuts that don't seemingly belong on either disc but fit within the context of the album as a whole. It feels like E and his collaborators have made an honest to goodness indie rock record, one that is immediate yet whose depths cannot be fathomed immediately. It's unwieldy, too long, irritating in some places, graceful in others, and sometimes clumsy. But it is utterly original and startlingly beautiful. At this juncture, records like this are almost museum pieces, mistakenly and cynically written off to the delusions of pop grandeur of earlier eras. Thank goodness rock music as we once knew it still exists in the minds and hearts of some of our more perceptive artists. E is one of them; he put everything into making Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, and the payoff is that it shows. ~ Thom Jurek

Rock - Released January 1, 2000 | Universal Music

The Eels were always a vehicle for a songwriter called (E), but by the point of their third album, 2000's Daisies of the Galaxy, they were his and his alone. When it came time to deliver a follow-up to the intimate, tortured Electro-Shock Blues, (E) couldn't help but deliver a lighter album, but he'd already turned so far into himself that his music was entirely insular. Of course, his music had always been fairly insular, but if Daisies of the Galaxy is any indication, he's gone so far in, he can't really come out. He's certainly not as extreme as Brian Wilson or Syd Barrett, but he's at the level of XTC or Roy Wood, making pop music for an already-established audience. Nothing on Daisies of the Galaxy will draw in casual listeners the way "Novocaine for the Soul" did, since everything is in miniature, from the yardsale production to the poetic scrawlings. Unlike its predecessor, the album doesn't play like (E)'s private diary; instead, it feels as if one is rummaging through his sketchbook. And, like many sketchbooks, some moments have blossomed, and others remain just intriguing, unformed ideas. For the dedicated, it's worth sifting through the album to find the keepers, since there are enough moments of quirky genius. But not all longtime fans will find this rewarding, since (E) has spent more time in creating mood than crafting songs. There are very few melodies that resonate like his best work, and the stripped-down, yet eccentric production -- sounding much like a cross between Jon Brion and Beck -- never feels realized. That's the problem with an offbeat, gifted musician becoming too insular; there are still clear clues of why he has his reputation, but there's not enough to justify exactly why he does. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | DreamWorks

As with the band's previous albums, Souljacker bristles with pop euphoria and cracking production, and proves Eels' frontman, E, to be a superb songwriter, but just like those previous albums, Souljacker ultimately falls a bit flat over the course of its extended running time. Album opener "Dog Faced Boy" exemplifies the weaker half of the album's 12 tracks. Though it's a decent punk glam take on T-Rex dynamics, it doesn't exactly beg for repeat listens like the album's better half. "That's Not Really Funny," "Woman Driving, Man Sleeping," "Fresh Feeling," "Friendly Ghost," and "What Is This Note?" are as strong as any songs in the band's back catalog. On these songs, lush strings, found sounds, children's toys, spy themes, surf music, elaborate piano segments, and fuzzy harmonicas mingle in the band's trademark, innovative way. Easily besting almost anything in Beck's quirky bag of songs, these songs display the charm, polish, and sincerity of E's original vision. Sadly, there's too much skronking punk-pop noise in the remaining songs that serves to drag the album down. This limited-edition release adds a bonus disc of four songs, one of them superb, two of them downright horrible, and one of them a useless remix. Only "I Write the B-Sides" warrants seeking out the limited edition. Its opening lines show E at his most poignant and wise, as he sings "I write the B-sides that make a small portion of the world cry/I like the seaside and singing songs that make you not want to die." Punchy, exuberant, and smart, the song would have made perfect sense on Souljacker in place of the somewhat mindless filler that permeates its cracks. Souljacker is certainly a welcome addition to any fans Eels collection, but due to its weaker batch of tracks, it's hard to recommend it to newcomers. ~ Tim DiGravina

Alternative & Indie - Released April 6, 2018 | E Works Records

Hi-Res Booklet
“D” like deconstruction. “E” like Everett. One might have thought Mark Oliver was blackening the last pages of his twenty-year-old alphabet book with the introspective The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett, released in 2014. Four years have gone by. And unsurprisingly for this twelfth chapter, the hypersensitive artist with a coral voice has composed an absolute gem. A fine and beautiful showpiece. With folk embroideries, arranged pop, hemstitched silences (Premonition) and sensual strings (The Epiphany), The Deconstruction oscillates back and forth between emotional auroras (Be Hurt) and scruffy rock trepidations (Today Is The Day, You're The Shining Light). To top it off, the multi-instrumentalist surrounded himself with great talent and met up with long-time collaborators in the Compound Studios, in California: bassist and keyboarder Koool G Murder (Kelly Logsdon) and P-Boo (Mike Sawitzke), as well as the Deconstruction Orchestra & Choir, and Mickey Petralia, who also worked on Electro-Schock Blues (1998). Seemingly disjointed, the fifteen tracks that make up the album roll out between lavish orchestrations filled with flutes, organs and keyboards, and bare segments for lyrical declamations (Archie Goodnight), arranging the musical space, accommodating instrumental pauses (The Quandary, The Unanswerable). All for a gracious and optimistic result! © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released March 29, 2018 | E Works Records


Alternative & Indie - Released March 14, 2018 | E Works Records


Alternative & Indie - Released February 9, 2018 | E Works Records


Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2018 | E Works Records


Eels in the magazine