A homemade epic, 'Blinking Lights'is an imaginative, emotional reflection on the condition of living, recorded mostly in Everett's Los Angeles basement over a period of several years. Sprawling over it's two discs are songs about faith, responsibility, growing up, dignity, disappointment, comfort, hope and renewal. It's the most personal eels album since 1998's Electro Shock Blues'. That album dealt with the nearly simultaneous suicide of Everett's sister and terminal illness of his mother, from the subjects' points of view. This album finds him a few years down the line, now battling some of the family demons himself, with the after effects of past tragedies becoming more of a personal issue in his adult life, sometimes fearlessly autobiographical, and other times built around the related stories of others. Vagrant. 2005.
Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
is a big, important record that's also devastatingly somber. Which, depending on how serious an Eels fan you are and the sturdiness of your psyche, can be taken as an endorsement or a warning. Shades of the band's superb sophomore effort, Electro-Shock Blues,
recorded after the suicide of Everett's sister and the death of his father, show up here on such wounded tracks as "Checkout Blues," "If You See Natalie," and "I'm Going to Stop Pretending I Didn't Break Your Heart." Permeating those are instrumental snippets, some sad and ponderous ("Theme from Blinking Lights"), others bordering on bright ("Theme for a Pretty Girl that Makes You Believe God Exists"), and a handful of ironic exercises in straight-up pop (the winking "Going Fetal" and the cynical but upbeat "Hey Man [Now You're Really Living]"). Spread over two discs, the mood of Blinking Lights
burns in fast and builds in its ferocity, so that when lighter moments like the funny "Whatever Happened to Soy Bomb" surface, they seem like ominous breaks in the storm. Though these songs make it easy to forget that Everett's gruff, fuzzed-over vocals have also graced fare breezy enough to be included on the Shrek
soundtrack, their beauty delivers a thoughtful listener from caring. --Tammy La Gorce