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:: The Eels ::
28 January 2008 / Universal / Simultaneous Release : 24 Trk CD + 50 Trk 2 x CD
By Dave Adair

Around this time of year, public tolerance starts to wane for greatest hits releases, representing over-egged nostalgic back-gazing over past glories. However, exceptions can be made and that is likely to be the case with this celebration of ten years (1996-2006) of Mark Everett – core of the melancholic, eccentric and colourful indie dirge champs, The Eels. “Novocaine For The Soul” on its own provides a reminder of Everett’s lyrical pounce and mood-bending instrumental jangling. Raw emotion and tenderness make a rare meeting in a song that has harvested recognition and respect. Even if this is a band that has to be witnessed live, in order to fully understand their chemistry, ethos and passion for their medium.

The most British song written by the Virginia born Everret, “Your Lucky Day In Hell” shows why he is, dare it be said, for many, an American Morrissey. One thing that stands out is the way that it is difficult to notice any real difference in songs produced over a decade ago, despite the many line-up changes. This could easily stand alone as a standard album, given the timeless nature and well built structure to each of the songs that each have an evergreen quality.

Back-to-back flighty, unbridled pop in the form of “3 Speed” and the electro spasm containing “Last Stop; This Town”, draws out a lesser seen ability to turn misery on its head and draw it out with colourful instrumentalism. Add to this Everett’s stern, worldly and endearingly husky vocal parade. Prize plum from 2000”s “Daisies Of The Galaxy” LP, “I Like Birds” was probably the first and most quirkiest alternative love song of the millennium;

‘I can’t stand in line at the store
The mean little people are such a bore
But it’s alright if you act like a turd
cause I like Birds’

The song choice on this album is impeccable, given that this collection could easily have contained double the 22 tracks on offer and, would probably have needed to do so, in order to include everybody’s favourites. Equal exposure is given to the Eeels grass roots troubled indie , their electro leanings and the band’s more empirical adventures. Everett’s slight philistine streak is represented through “Get Your Freak On”, in bold and defiant measures, drawing out the more off-kilter leanings.

Freshness is provided in the acoustic material bound with strings and the live rendition of the loved up and even more tenderized, “Dirty Girl”. Dusty Dylan-esque reflection pours out of “Railroad Man”, highlighting the fact that The Eels stand for gritty and honesty, more than anything else. “Meet The Eels” by no means represents the end for this evergreen outfit and truly serves as a reminder of their ability to adapt, yet maintain their uniqueness at the same time.

The retrospective is accompanied by the simultaneous release of “Useless Trinkets; 50 tracks of rare and much sought sessions, alternate versions and remixes.


The Eels
Eels on MS

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