Some of the most moving movements of Eels’ frontman Mark Everett’s very engaging autobiography surround the motivations for this album.
Everett has not had the most blessed of lives (despite his musical fortunes), and between his breakout Beautiful Freak album and this followup, his sister committed suicide and he nursed his mum through failed cancer treatment.
Left the only survivor in his immediate family, he turned to songwriting as therapy.
That may sound like a recipe for a maudlin self-indulgent album. Fortunately Everett’s mourning and contemplations come with a big dollop of pop sensibility (consciously or otherwise).
Here we get fascinating and touching vignettes about the horrors of chemotherapy and the awkwardness and futility of funerals, of helplessness and anger at his sister and at life. He spits (rocking) vitriol at Hospital Food and at cancer. He cribs from his sister’s diary and contemplates posthumous meetings and conversations.
This is songwriting as story-telling in a riveting way, and with a sense also for the absurdity of life.
The scariest (but not surprising) aspect of Everett’s recollections of this album’s creation is the sheer insensitivity and stupidity of his record company. They thought this would be a traincrash of a release. It isn’t. It’s a beautiful, precious piece of art.
File under: Good mourning