CD Review of Blinking Lights and Other Revelations by The Eels
Label
Vagrant
The Eels:
Blinking Lights and
Other Revelations

Reviewed by John Paulsen

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O
ver the last several years, Eels frontman and driving force Mark Oliver Everett (a.k.a. “E”) has suffered countless comparisons to Beck. Given their similar sounds and production tendencies, this association is both understandable and unfair, as it comes with the inevitable expectations of being identified with such a widely accessible and commercial success. Therein lies the major difference between the two artists – E doesn’t seem too concerned about selling albums or hearing his songs on the radio. Instead, he focuses on creating music for himself and for his loyal, established fan base. That’s not to say that his new effort, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, isn’t ambitious - it most certainly is. Recorded over a period of several years in Everett’s basement, Blinking Lights spans thirty-three tracks on two discs. And while it may not win over a ton of new fans, it should surely satisfy the band’s core audience.

The album is quite moody, consisting mostly of slower, emotional tracks, in which Everett explores personal issues like spirituality, suicide, adolescence and hope. There are also several beautiful instrumentals that clearly demonstrate his ability to compose and arrange. However, the songs that demand multiple listens are the catchy and up-tempo “Trouble With Dreams,” “Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living),” “Old Shit / New Shit” and “Losing Streak”. It is on these numbers that E seems to be at his most content; he’s still angry at the state of the world but is appreciative of it nonetheless.

Later, on the excellent “The Stars Shine in the Sky Tonight,” Everett sings “It’s not where you’re coming from / it’s where you’re going to / and I just want to go with you,” which indicates that he’s still thinking about death, a prevailing theme throughout his career. The lyrics from the moving final track, “Things the Grandchildren Should Know,” sound as if they were written by an old man on his death bed: “In the end I’d like to say that I’m a very thankful man / I tried to make the most of my situations and enjoy what I had…I have some regrets but if I had to do it all again / Well, it’s something that I’d like to do”. The song is a fitting conclusion to a fine effort.

Key tracks: “Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living),” “Trouble With Dreams,” “Old Shit / New Shit,” “The Other Shoe,” “Losing Streak,” “The Stars Shine In The Sky Tonight,” “Things The Grandchildren Should Know”

For those not familiar with their pre-Blinking Lights catalog, the following playlist provides a nice overview of The Eels’ work (listed chronologically):

1. Novocaine For The Soul*
2. Flower*
3. Guest List
4. My Beloved Monster*
5. Manchild
6. Fucker
7. Not Ready Yet
8. Susan’s House
9. Your Lucky Day In Hell
10. Ant Farm
11. Last Stop: This Town*
12. 3 Speed
13. Elizabeth On The Bathroom Floor
14. Going To Your Funeral
15. Climbing To The Moon*
16. P.S. You Rock My World
17. Mr. E's Beautiful Blues*
18. Daises Of The Galaxy
19. It's A Motherfucker
20. Grace Kelly Blues*
21. Jeannie's Diary
22. I Like Birds
23. Fresh Feeling*
24. Saturday Morning

* try these first

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