From angst to mellow, Eels are about transition

Published 6:13 am Friday, February 8, 2013

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In a way, “Wonderful, Glorious” is a lamb in lion’s clothing.

Singer Mark Oliver Everett never lacks aggression on the 10th album from the band Eels, as he growls in defiance across 13 tracks (the bonus edition includes 26 tracks). But he gradually reveals his softer side.

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“I’ve had enough of being complacent; I’ve had enough of being the mouse,” Everett scowls on the opener, “Bombs Away.” He goes on to insist, “I will be heard — and your opinion’s gonna wait its turn.”

On the song, Everett makes it painfully clear he’s done taking guff and will have his time in the sun.

Everett remains defiant for much of the album, warning, “Don’t mess with me, I’m up for the fight” on “Kinda Fuzzy.”

But gradually, Everett’s tender side shines through between the heavy guitars and drums. He softens up as he sings of the awkwardness of running into a past love on “Accident Prone.” He even sings of stopping to smell the roses, somewhat literally, on “Peach Blossom.”

The lyrics of the album play like a transition, as Everett embraces his emotions, as he sings, “I’m hurtin’ bad and fightin’ mad. I’m not knocked out, but I’m on the ropes.”

Slowly, Everett sets aside the angst that carries the first defiant strokes of the album and replaces it with a resilient tone. The turning point, first comes on — appropriately enough — “The Turnaround” and then “New Alphabet.”

The latter is the first single off the album, and a fitting song summary of the album, as Everett sings about digging out after a somber yesterday to start “changin’ up what the story’s about.”

The album can be compared to Rancid, especially the band’s album, “Indestructible.” Both bands date to the 1990s and boast heavy, guitar and drum-driven rock. But Everett and Rancid lead-singer Tim Armstrong aren’t afraid to wear their hears on their sleeve.

Sure, there are times where Everett lyrics fall stone flat, often in forced rhymes, but his refreshing honesty carries the album. He embraces the dark times, but this album is him taking charge, refusing to be a bystander in the story.