When this album popped up out of nowhere back in 1996, the Eels’ big hit singles got lumped in alongside other quirky reimaginings of grunge from Cake and the Butthole Surfers. It had to do with the mix of spoken vocals, power chords and electronica.
It’s a shame because there is a lot more depth and subtlety to the Eels’ work. Mark Everett is a thoughtful and provocative songwriter. He bares his soul (at times) and has a slightly morose or disappointed take on the world he sees around them.
These themes permeate the breakout track, here Susan’s House:
In many ways, this is a more subdued and literal version of Beck‘s more electronic output. Everett (for this is pretty much him with a couple of buddies tagging along), doesn’t show off in the same that Back does, nor is he as deliberately obtuse.
There is a lot to like on here. Novocaine for the Soul is poppy yet dark. The title track is a sweet lament around the impact of mental illness (as is Mental).
I recently read Everett’s fascinating and touching autobiography “Things the Grandchildren Should Know“. I highly recommend it, with this and his other albums paying along in the background.
File under: Seek out some Freak