Mark Everett’s voice is smooth, rich, transcends generations and never loses its appeal. Whether a latecomer to Eels or a fan since their 1996 Beautiful Freak release, their discography is a map documenting an impressive career, and an even more impressive lyrical record of pain, death, and sadness. This tenth offering, however, is a notably more upbeat than End Times; Everett softening slightly, with every track seeped in melancholic pop songwriting.
Wonderful, Glorious is a perfect mix of blues and Eels’ introspective musings. The first track, ‘Peach Blossom’ was released in early November on Soundcloud, highlighting the fact that the tormented lyrics of old have disappeared, being replaced with light, distorted basslines, whimsical lyrics, and tambourines, matched with a self-assured rock sound and ballads like ‘Accident Prone’ and ‘The Turnaround’.
The former titleholder of Sombre King, Everett doesn’t get too bogged down in the grief like albums past. Tracks like ‘Susan’s House’ and ‘Novocaine for the Soul’, which were satirical and quirky in their anecdotal style, give way to ‘Bombs Away’ and ‘New Alphabet’, which are punchier and up tempo. ‘New Alphabet’ is one of the catchiest tracks on the album. Even ‘You’re My Friend’ is a softer, less cynical side to Eels, but the narrative remains personal, as on ‘Stick Together’ – a tribute to a friend of Everett’s, while ‘On the Ropes’ is one of those fighter songs that Bruce Springsteen would tip his hat to.
Eels have proven they’re not knocked out, not on the ropes – they’ve “enough fight left inside their tired heart” to produce another solid album – perhaps not wonderful, glorious, but definitely nice, good.