Electro-Shock Blues: Eels’ Finest Work

9 September 2019

Electro-Shock Blues is a very personal record for the creative force behind Eels, Mark Oliver Everett, commonly known as simply, E. Eels have always been known to put out some pretty bleak records, but Electro-Shock Blues in particular deals with very heavy and dark themes. Prominent ideas on this record include loss, grief, and pain. All of these themes come from a very personal place within Everett, and Electro-Shock Blues is a better album for it. The personal writing and unique instrumentation combine to make Electro-Shock Blues the magnum opus of Eels.

Electro-Shock Blues was inspired by the loss that Everett experienced preceding the album’s creation. Everett lost his mother to lung cancer and his sister to suicide shortly before the album’s conception and lost his father to a heart attack many years before. Nearly every song on Electro-Shock Blues relates to these events. The many different approaches that Everett takes to dealing with these losses on Electro-Shock Blues makes for an enjoyable record with many different and unique styles of music.

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My favorite song on the record is “Last Stop: This Town”, a surprisingly upbeat song dealing with Everett’s grieving on the loss of his sister. The instrumentation on this track is top-notch. The main guitar riff sets the tone for the track, with the tone being haunting, yet beautiful all at the same time. The lyrics of this song are some of the best on the entire record. They show Everett lamenting the death of his sister and even blaming himself at times. “What if I was not your only friend in this world, can you take me where you’re going if you’re never coming back.” This line has a multitude of different layers to it. It’s multilayered lyrics like this that contribute to making Electro-Shock Blues an incredible album.

A great idea that Everett implements in Electro-Shock Blues is the returning to a melody later on in the album. The second track on the album is “Going to Your Funeral.” The track is dark and ominous, telling the story of Everett attending a loved one’s funeral, and the struggles that come with that. Seven songs later, the track, “Going to Your Funeral Part II,” comes up. This is an instrumental song, using the same melody from “Going to Your Funeral.” The melody is used in a more melancholic way, seeming more uplifting and positive. This technique of returning to a melody is very impactful and makes the listener feel a wide range of emotions.

Another standout track on Electro-Shock Blues is “My Descent into Madness.” The “La-La’s” as the chorus perfectly capture the story that Everett is telling, a person’s “descent into madness.” Lines like, “This jacket keeps me straight,” and “Talking very loud, but no one hears a word I say,” further cement this album as a lyrical masterpiece. The soft and mellow instrumentation on this track contrast with the dark lyrics in a way that seems to emphasize a person’s inner struggle.

Electro-Shock Blues by Eels is a beautiful exploration in the dark mind of Mark Oliver Everett, showcasing his grief and sorrow in a way that creates an incredible record and acts as the magnum opus of Eels.

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