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Eels - Wonderful, Glorious Review and CD Covers (2013 album)

Retail CD Front
In just under a year, from June 2009 to May 2010, Eels released three albums (Hombre Lobo, End Times and Tomorrow Morning). Despite the sheer volume of music (those last two had a handful of bonus tracks as well), I honestly believe that there was one really amazing Eels album there.
Then, they toured, then, they disappeared.
At the end of October 2012, the Eels website dropped a bomb: a brand new Eels album would arrive in just over three months.Eels would return.
It would be wonderful.

It would be glorious.
I was worried that, with a title like that, E (Mark Oliver Everett III, the man behind Eels) had set himself up for mockery.
I thought, "What if it was neither wonderful nor glorious?! What then?!"
As it turns out, I am happy to report that I had nothing to worry about.
Because this album is awesome.

The
album opens with "Bombs Away", a strident declaration from E that he is tired of not being heard; he's going to "shake" and "rattle the house" and also stop "being a mouse". He's letting the bombs fall and blowing open the doors. While the lyrics (punctuated by his defiant, carefree howls) speak of exploding from the gate and damning the consequences, the music seems somewhat less enthusiastic. Is it weird to say that I would have liked more BMPs? There's a line, "Nobody listens to a whispering fool / Are you listening? I didn't think so", that is repeated and changed to reflect E's state of mind. It goes from a question, to a whispered statement ("You're not listening, I didn't think so") to the final, declarative "Are you listening? I know that you are", only the music, while it does build, slightly, throughout the song, doesn't seem to match that abandon and confident. Hm, I feel as if I'm overexplaining this...okay, putting it another way: there aren't enough changes, musically, to warrant the changes, lyrically. With a name like "Bombs Away", a track opening an album called Wonderful, Glorious, I would have expected a little less restraint.
But.
This is only the opener, and E does like to take his listeners on a journey.
The journey continues with the excellent little funk number, "Kinda Fuzzy", which introduces the theme of fighting ("I'm feeling kinda fuzzy / but the sun's shining bright / don't mess with me I'm up for the fight") as well as the theme of dancing around uncontrollably while listening to this album.
Next up, a sweet, simple song called "Accident Prone", which serves as an interlude between the rollicking "Kinda Fuzzy" and the album's fuzz bass-laced love romp, "Peach Blossom". Listen to this song and try not to dance...go on.
"On The Ropes" is a brave and heartfelt song about not giving up and staying on your feet and winning your fight, no matter what. You can hear the age and fatigue in E's voice, but also the steel and determination lying beneath it.
Next is one of the best tracks on an album full of great tracks, "The Turnaround". This builds, slow and steady, starting at the lowest point and ending with E's triumphant, screaming defiance. Nothing is standing in his way.
Then, "New Alphabet", a harder sounding track with a softer message: when things in your life don't make sense, when you're lost, find a way to make them make sense. Carry on. No matter what.
The heavier tone of "Alphabet" is juxtaposed nicely with the frantic, foot stompin' feel of "Stick Together". Oh, those drums... Something about this feels almost like an old fashioned tent revival...or the scene in the buddy comedy when they accidentally rob a bank and are trying to get away with it. It feels...rampant.
Some more juxtaposition with "True Original", which sounds like a continuation of "The Longing" from Hombre Lobo. The last verse, the one that goes: "And if a gun was pointed at her / I would stand between the bullet and her / and if not being with me is what makes her happy / I'd take that bullet too" is just a bit too clunky and obvious to be effective, it sounds like something a heartsick kid might say.
Which may have been E's intent.
So ignore me.
EVEN MORE JUXTAPOSITION with "Open My Present". If I had to sum this song up in six words they would be as follows: this dude wants to bone...now. The song itself is fun and sassy, but the simple and repetitive lyrics get old fast, which is a problem for a song that's just over three minutes long.
We get it, you're horny.
Next is another one of my favorite tracks, "You're My Friend". Just as with "Present" the lyrics are pretty simplistic, sounding a bit like Randy Newman at times ("you're my friend / you've done a lot of really nice things for me / and I won't forget 'em / do you know how much you mean to me?"), but the heart of the song is just so sweet and pure that it doesn't feel simple, it ends up feeling true, sincere. Also, musically, it's, by far, the most interesting song on the album, infused with plinking, blippy synths and guitars that sound like Casio clockwork...it's a veritable midi-parade, and it's just great.
Second to last, we have another really excellent track, "I Am Building A Shrine", which centers around bringing one's love for another into the afterlife; yet again, a subject that, if handled wrong, could come off as cheesy, but here, coming from E, it comes off as nothing but heartfelt and loving.
The final track, "Wonderful, Glorious" is exactly what it should be: not the typical "well, the world is crappy and made of poop and everyone is dead and dying but, somehow, SOMEHOW, I will carry on..." *tear rolls*, but a huge, open festival of exultation. There is a choir and it fits perfectly. Towards the end, the ebullience is palpable; this is the sound of the sun rising on E's heart and it is just so beautiful...

And then, there are the bonus tracks...*
Usually, these are something to be tacked on to sell a few more records to the die hard fans who want...no...need...to own everything an artist does and are, for the most part, forgettable.
Not. Here.
The first sounds a bit like Eels covering a Screamin' Jay Hawkins remake of the old Eels b-side "Stepmother" (but with one's mother as the subject matter instead). It's called "Your Mama Warned You" and the git-tars contained within are dirty.
Love it.
Then there's "I'm Your Brave Little Solider", which, continuing the trend, sounds like another band, Magnetic Fields, perhaps. This is a great upbeat track with an awesome and adorable little shuffling thump.
And I think it's about homeless people who are in love...I think.
Next, "There's Something Strange", seems to be E complaining about his neighbor.
Nothing more, nothing less. Some nice, slinky guitars and Doors-esque keys make this more than just an odd novelty. I have a feeling this might have been composed for a film...perhaps one about an annoying neighbor.
Finally, there is "Happy Hour (We're Gonna Rock)". You know how, every once in a while, you just wish that a b-side had been made into an a-side?
Yeah.
This song...makes me want to twist. The fuzz bass will kill everyone...
You ever hear how E is always threatening to kill us with rock?
Well, he may have just done it with this track. Why this isn't on the album, I just cannot fathom.
After these four tracks which range from solid to brain-explodingly good, there are eight more tracks, some from their 2010 and 2011 world tours and some from in studio radio appearances, all of which make me want a full live album release like Eels did in the old days.

So.
Is this the best Eels album ever?
Does it top their earlier stuff?
No, but it's their best since Blinking Lights.
Do I have a few issues with Wonderful, Glorious?
Yes, musically, I wish there had been more experimentation as there was with "You're My Friend".
But, as I mentioned before: it's awesome.
Now, I'm going to avoid the cliches that everyone is going to have to deal with in the coming days and weeks by not saying something stupid like "this album certainly is.......wonderful and glo-blah blah blah."
What I am going to do is tell you to purchase it.
I don't usually do that.
I tend to be more diplomatic and say something like "if you enjoy so and so" or "if you're a fan of such and such"...not in this case.
Buy this album; either the regular or the deluxe version, it doesn't matter (although the deluxe has more good music on it and why you wouldn't want more good music makes utterly no sense to me or anyone).
Buy it.
You will like it, because it's awesome.
Then, go see Eels in concert and have the rest of your face blown off by their blistering rock show.

If you bought the deluxe edition...which I did.    

Verdict: 80/100

CD Covers
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