Mark Everett, main mind behind the 90’s rock band Eels and better known as “E,” does not have a reputation for being a happy man. Over the past 18 years, Everett has used the band’s nine albums as a sonic diary, detailing instance after instance of love, heartbreak and bad times. We followed E through broken relationships, family death and a concept album trilogy based on “desire, loss and redemption.”
So what would Wonderful, Glorious, E’s 10th album, have to tell us?
Well, from the first single ‘Peach Blossom,’ it sounds like E finally has something to be happy about.
The album breaks out a bit from standard Eels formula. Wonderful, Glorious comes on strong with opener ‘Bombs Away,’ pointedly declaring that E has “had enough of being complacent,” and that he “no longer gonna keep [his] mouth shut.” Between this and the fun, distorted and aptly named follower ‘Kinda Fuzzy,’ Wonderful, Glorious looks to be a new direction for Eels – where many artists soften up after producing music for so long, E seems to have taken a turn for the harder, the rougher.
Though the new sound isn’t consistent, other tracks of interest are the Tom Waits-inspired ‘The Turnaround,’ slinky blues ‘New Alphabet’ and upbeat ‘Stick Together.’
There are a few misses sprinkled through the good stuff – Accident Prone is a bit of a buzzkill towards the start of the album and ‘You’re My Friend’ is a little awkward in the grade school simplicity of its lyrics.
Penultimate ‘I Am Building a Shrine’ is a blissfully pretty love song, leading into the album’s title track and closer. Wonderful, Glorious ends on a high note, leaving the listener hopeful, and maybe a little relieved, because the protagonist in the story of Eels appears to have finally gotten a break from the seemingly-constant sadness featured so prominently in past chapters.