Wonderful Glorious EWorks****

Hard to believe that Wonderful Glorious is the 10th studio album from Mark Oliver Everett, but easy to conclude that it's one of his very best.

Since the 1996 breakthrough Beautiful Freak, Everett (better known simply as E) has walked a drunken line – sometimes missing the mark, other times perfectly realising his unique musical vision. Having written an autobiography of sorts, made a documentary about quantum physics and released a Greatest Hits, there were fears that Eels were about to slink off the scene, but this more than steadies the ship – even if E, after all the tragedies, comes across as somewhat battered and bruised.

He sings on On the Ropes: “In the ring so long, gonna prove them wrong, I’m not knocked out but I’m on the ropes”. Perhaps being boxed into a corner is the right place for him, as here he is equal parts defiant, troubled and optimistic. Opener Bombs Away is grit-rock with a kick that showcases E’s knack for riff and melody. The first single Peach Blossom is faux hard rock with a fantastic fuzz bass core. A bit psychedelic, a bit scuzzy blues, it’s one of the best things here.

A lot here reminds you of the sound Everett had on both Electro-Shock Blues and Hombre Lobo, but just as you feel that’s he’s returned to more commercial glories he throws in some new sonic adventures. This is very much a vocal album, and E is on great form throughout, whether raging against the modern world or finding himself at many a crossroads. On the Ropes and Turnaround both combine E’s past, present and musical future, and on New Alphabet he sounds like a demonic Jack White (that’s a good thing).

You’re really not supposed to sound this possessed and so wildly adventurous on your 10th release, but what E has managed to do is combine much of his musical history with new stylings and tropes. And he is right, you know – this is all a bit wonderful and a bit glorious.

Download:Bombs Away, Peach Blossom, On the Ropes, New Alphabet

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