Rhythm & Views


There are bands we listen to for fun--not for philosophical inspirations--such as Eels. Subsequently, when Mark Everett, otherwise known as E, attempts to put forth "revelations," as the title of Eels' new double-CD suggests, the result is about as revelatory as cutting off your arm and proclaiming that it hurts.

Blinking Lights is mapped out like a soundtrack, with musical snippets among more fleshed-out songs. The story seems to be of E's sad, lonely life until, ta da! He meets a girl who doesn't run screaming. The songs that directly address these tired storylines give us equally tired lyrics and boring instrumentation: "Mother couldn't love me, but that didn't stop me from liking her. She was my mom," sings E on "Son of a Bitch" over sad horns. These songs are just as lyrically unspectacular as others on the record that are textured and prettier ("Trouble With Dreams," "Old Shit/New Shit," "To Lick Your Boots")--the difference is the music. When there are beautiful beaches next to a landfill, one tends to not notice the landfill.

The best moment of Blinking Lights is on the second disc: "Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)" is not exactly revelatory, but its ironic lyrics, combined with a simple pop melody, give it a depth the other songs lack. "Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor, cry your guts out 'til you got no more? Hey man, now you're really living," sings E over happy chords and sha-la-la-las. E should stick to the scenic pop, where the swell of instruments and melodies distracts from the lyrics ... or work on writing better lyrics.

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