Mark E Everett has created an incredible and varied catalog of music since the 90’s under the band name eels. Although the music has always fit into an indie rock aesthetic, the instrumentation has varied massively along with their live performances.
I have seen the eels play on several occasions and never has the layout of the band consisted of the same musicians or types of instruments. From a two piece to a full string section, The eels sound has morphed and changed over the years to fit the tastes of Mark E Everett. These styles are then applied to older tracks giving them a new life in the live environment every time you see them.
This ability to morph the songs into different styles proves the universal quality of the melody’s and lyrics. Mark E Everett has always spoken for the suffering outsider throughout his career and does so with a poetic reverence that always manages to come across as honest and heartfelt.
An early example of this is the track Guest List from the bands first and self titled album. It portrays a character who’s being turned away from event or club, but this small event is a metaphor for the characters life of being constantly downtrodden and sidelined. There’s a real pain and vulnerability to the vocal delivery that enhances its meaning, Giving the song a poignancy that could be grating from less experienced artist.
From 1996s album Beautiful freak to 2001s Souljacker Eels didn’t put a foot wrong. The four albums over those six years manage to portray a diverse and vibrant collection of musical styles with heartfelt lyrics that portray a vast collection of the human experience.
Daisies Of The Galaxy as an album provides a lighter more joyous instrumentation than its predecessor Electro Shock Blues with traditional orchestration as a driving force. However the lyrics still reflect a soul searching darkness, the driving factors On Electro Shock Blues. This time they are more abstract, from a raw pain they have developed into a mature one. Emotions with hindsight and experience, The bitter-sweet feelings on Electro Shock Blues were divided on a track by track basis but by Daisys Of The Galaxy they are ingrained as one and this is exemplified by the title song from the album.
Wrapped in both a sweet nostalgia and a bitter loneliness the song starts with isolated guitar and vocals but soon blossoms into exquisite instrumentation from brass and strings, the track drifts away to its conclusion as the vocals blend with more layers of instrumentation including woodwind and fade into obscurity leaving both a feeling of joy and uncertainty.
It’s rare for a track to have so much power for me but Eels manage to achieve it many times throughout their works. Daisys Of the Galaxy is an album and a track that I will continue to return to for years to come:
The eels have been around for over 15 years and in that time have created a large verity of music spanning different ideas and genre. I have seen them live several times and yet each time don’t quite know what to expect. You could be going to see the frontman Mark Oliver Everett (E) in a suit and being accompanied by a large string section, as an denim dungaree wearing two piece with a drummer or even as a traditional four piece rock band.
All the eels albums vary greatly and yet they all seem part of a whole. Partly because of E’s voice but also because of the brilliantly written lyrics which fit into the different styles the eels perform in.
If you haven’t heard the eels and like what you hear, they are a great band to get into. There’s a lot of material to go throughand you can clearly hear them evolve through the albums which are all worth a listen.
So lets start near the beginning, Susan’s house is on their first album “beautiful freak”:
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