Mark Everett shows beauty and depression on "Blinking Lights"
Eels, formerly known simply as E, have always been a band with real potential. Lead man Mark Everett has produced several hits over the last decade, including "Novacaine for the Soul," which became one of the biggest songs of 1996, but Eels have always fallen short on each CD, producing good, but not great records.
However, their newest release, "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations," breaks the mold, catapulting Everett from a moderate songwriter to one of the best this year, if not the last few. "Blinking Lights" is a CD that deals with extreme loss and the sense of gratitude for life that it can bring.
And while "Blinking Lights" is extremely depressing, it is not without reason. Everett himself has gone through several personal tragedies throughout his adult life. While in his late teen's, Everett came home to find his father dead. In 1996 his sister committed suicide, and then in 1998, Everett struggled with the lengthy death of his mother from cancer. After the death of his mother, Everett had lost all of his immediate family, experienced things that few have experienced and thus has made a new record that few will ever match. Everett not only comments on death, but life, not only sadness, but love, encompassing all of the thoughts and emotions that he went through during the horrible time.
Everett has also spent over seven years writing this album, while releasing other CD's in between his family's deaths and "Blinking Lights." Thus, this album differs very strikingly from traditional Eels. In songs such as "In the Yard, Behind the Church," "If You See Natalie" and "I'm Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart" the lyrics are obviously well thought through, and the guitar parts fill their role without overtaking the sound on each track, leading each song to seem like an individual masterpiece.
Everett deals with the variety of topics and emotions from several different perspectives, ranging from early childhood to the present. He comments on his early relationships with his mother and father, while at the same time asking what he should have done in hopes of preventing his sister's suicide. The large array of events that Everett covers allows him to make a very chronological record, as he moves from earliest memories to his most recent revelations. He is also able to convey these emotions from several different standpoints—some as a child, some as an adult—again making each song distinct from the next as they deal with new topics with distinct writing styles.
This album is even more personal than it sounds. Everett digs deep, reaching into the core of his emotions to a place where few venture. While listening to this album, I felt Everett tug at feelings that I scarcely knew existed. He is able to not only search into his own feelings, but into those of others as well. And while some of the songs deal with such specific topics that they are hard to identify with, on many of the tracks Everett deals with emotions that apply to almost everyone. He is thus able to use his personal events to frame a philosophy that no matter how much one loses, there is always some good left. It is this ability to understand that life will go on that separates Everett from other artists such Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith, who both constantly battled with depression. While Cobain and Smith were unable to deal with the tragedy in their life, Everett is able to tell his troubles while at the same time explaining the beauty that he finds in living life.
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