All of Eels’ last four albums have been given something of a ‘return to
form’ tag; the subtextual inference being, of course, that form has been
Mark Oliver Everett has moulded his own idiosyncratic sonic template
and you can spot an Eels song structure a mile-off: the piano ballad,
acoustic strum and the grizzly flat-out guitar rocker have long been staples but as Eels near the 20-year mark of existence,
moments of true, varied, sonic experimentation found on earlier work (such as ‘Electro-Shock Blues’) seem a distant, foggy memory.
That said, Eels’ latest could indeed be a ‘return to form’ in a more rudimentary sense.
It’s E’s most stylistically consistent in years; a largely acoustic, plaintive album laced with tip-tap country shuffles and pouryour-heart-out-propping-up-the-bar reflective lyrical melancholy.
It’s a stripped-back, stark record – standout ‘Dead Reckoning’ even possesses an icy, bleak organ gloom akin to Nico
but the xylophone tinkles and the familiar chord progressions soon return.
Before embarking on ‘Spiderland’, this time with producer Brian Paulson,
Slint would record a two-song E.P,
again with Albini as someone pulled out of a booked studio session last minute, but this was not released until
Did this irk Albini, who was/is a big fan of the band, not to be asked back? “I did think about that when we were recording it, but we had already
chosen Brian Paulson,” says Pajo.
“I think Jesus Lizard were recording ‘Goat’ almost at exactly the same time
as ‘Spiderland’ and they all showed up at the studio to see if we wanted to get dinner with them and I remember Steve walking around
checking out the microphone placement and the studio and I got the feeling back then that he was a little bit pissed off at us, and we didn’t go to dinner with them because we were busy!
But it wasn’t out of any lack of respect for Steve’s abilities or anything, we just wanted to work with someone else.
Brian Paulson had done the Bastro record and Brian [McMahan] really liked some of the sounds he was getting for that.
So, yeah I did get the impression Steve was off with us but we did record the 10” with him.”
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