eels' electro-shock blues
"Laying on the bathroom floor
Kitty licks my cheek once more
And I could try
But waking up is harder
when you wanna die . . ."
And so starts the cheerily optimistic second album from the eels. Well okay not really. electro - shock blues isn't exactly all sunshine and roses and a quick perusal of the album tracks confirms where singer/songwriter E's (aka Mark Oliver Everett) head is at. Part I starts off with Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor, continues with Going to Your Funeral Part I, Cancer for the Cure, and My Descent Into Madness among others. Part II continues the gloomy sentiment with Going to Your Funeral Part II, Dead of Winter, and The Medication is Wearing Off. Much has been said of the events surrounding E's life that acted as a catalyst for this album's writing - the suicide of his sister, and the death of his mother from cancer. And it's in there - in the achingly poignant lyrics, the grief, the melancholy, and the sadness all wrapped in a dose of medicated realism. But there's much more than that. The grief is there sure, but it exists alongside some of music's most extraordinarily beautiful and pure moments. Climbing to the Moon is pure sweetness and melodic harmonies, with a simple chorus that breaks my heart. And the final track P.S. You Rock My World is essentially life affirming with the last line of the track and of the album "And maybe it's time to live" the parting message E leaves with his listeners. It reminds you that there is a flipside to sadness and grief..that ultimately there's beauty and hope.

I've got electro-shock blues playing as I type this...not the most considered track-by-track review though.
Track listing :
01. Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor
Stark lyrics with a painful honesty. Mellow.

02. Going To Your Funeral Part I
"Look at all the people with their heads down in their hands / When everything I'm feeling makes it hard to understand that, uh / What I need to miss... It's what I need to miss... Is you"

03. Cancer For The Cure
Nice track. Liking the chorus on this. Liking the screechy guitar thing going on. I'm assuming it's a guitar.

04. My Descent Into Madness
"Voices tell me I'm the shit". Is that not the best line?

05. 3 Speed

06. Hospital Food
It's somewhat disconcerting to have such a catchy track, when the lyrics read something like "Tip toe through the alley and / tip toe through your life / You still got it coming / be it gun be it knife / Next thing you know / you're eating hospital food"

07. Electro-Shock Blues
Title track is simply stunning. This is headphone music as its best. Somewhat soothing, but probably shouldn't be. E speaks over a simple piano chord. This is incredibly touching. I used to tear up on trains with this track.

08. Efils' God
Close to one of my favourite electro-shock blues track. These lines get me "Don't tell me that I can't do this / As if you know / But you don't know / How efils good". I always misheard "How efils good", as how it feels good. Even though I know better, I still mishear it.

09. Going To Your Funeral Part II

10. Last Stop : This Town
Used to dance around my bedroom with this track on. Why am I talking in the past sense. I still do. Again disconcerting experience as E is making reference to his dead sibling, while I bounce around the room. On another note, the clip to this is great. There's a streaming version of the video somewhere on the net.

11. Baby Genius
Not a favourite of mine. So I'll skip ahead.

12. Climbing To The Moon
This was a standout at the concert eels played in Sydney. I remember coming home from the concert and fast forwarding my tape (I bootlegged it) until I found it. Kept on rewinding and playing back again and again. Went through a period of repeat play on the cd too. But do you really need to hear my drivelling on? I love this. The lyrics in the chorus makes me break. Okay, bear with me cause I'm going to repeat it for my listening pleasure again. (Ahh..done :)

13. Ant Farm

14. Dead of Winter
Again headphone track. Again tearing up on the train. I'm constantly amazed at E's honesty, which perhaps explains why most people have such an intense response to this album. Like attracts like I guess.

15. The Medication is Wearing Off
An uplifting track. You work your way through a mix of barely repressed anger and grief on the first half of the album, and the last few tracks break out of the gloom.

16. P.S. You Rock My World
A fitting way to end the album. This is an incredibly pure track. I have no better way of describing it. "And I was thinkin' bout how / everyone is dying / And maybe it's time to live". Quite right E.

"If Beautiful Freaks was our greeting card to the world, then Electro Shock Blues is the phonecall in the middle of the night that the world doesn't want to answer" says E.

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