|The little one making beautiful, beautiful noise and eating a snack (notice how I didn't call it "music"?)|
On a purely musical basis, this record is a combination of faster and slower songs, and the texture of the instrumentation is varied, combining lots of fun percussion and some horn elements with the usual suspects. But you don't have to listen any further than first track "Bombs Away" to know it's going to rock hard, since this track sets the tone for the whole record, opening with a funky, world-flavored drum sequence, a scratchy kaz-tar (that's a cross between a kazoo and guitar that I just made up, although I'm sure Eels has one anyway), and just enough plucked bass notes to get the weird party started ("Nobody listens to a whisperin' fool/Are you listenin'? I didn't think so/I've been quiet as a church house mouse/Tip-toein' everywhere I go"). Other highlights include "Peach Blossom", which barges in on a stumbling drum and blurts of distorted guitar, mixing elements of the Old West with snippets of vague Morphine-esque sex appeal ("Open the window man and smell the peach blossom/The tiger lily/The marigold"), and "Open My Present", a combination of a suggestive guitar lick with equally-suggestive lyrics over a chh-chhing percussive backdrop ("I wanna open my present/Look at it wrapped up in little pink bows").
Beyond the basic nuts and bolts, however, I feel compelled to note that this album is also awesome. Since, once again, I've never listened to Eels before, I don't know what their past stuff is like. I do, however, know that this particular record strikes me as what would happen if Tom Waits and Morphine rolled themselves together into a delicious donut and then topped themselves with whipped cream ('cause it's that tasty). The lyrics are thoughtful and unexpected, the music veers between sheer dance-ability and reflective goodness, and it weaves a subtle Old West element into straight-up, interestingly-phrased sex appeal in a way I'm not sure I've heard before (well, it strikes me as sex appeal, but I'm willing to admit I'm a bit of a weirdo. it's nothing overt, but it's hot nonetheless) Oh, and it's currently available as an Amazon download for $5, and you can stream it for free here. Seriously, you'd be crazy not to.