Eels’ Mark Oliver Everett (aka-E!) loves making unique, largely un-categorizable albums that span a plethora of genres and incorporate a variety of sounds and raw vocal performances. For proof, check out his concept album trilogy of Hombre Lobo, End Times and Tomorrow Morning, or Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. Wonderful, Glorious attempts to continue this trend, but is far less successful than its predecessors.
“Accident Prone”’s down-tempo guitars and Everett’s sedated, melodic vocals are undoubtedly unusual, and the way he channels Johnny Cash’s mumbling vocal on the dreamy guitar-driven ballad “On the Ropes,” is spine-tingling, but “Peach Blossom” and “Kinda Fuzzy” are classic eels—groovy, distortion-drenched, creepy rock—to the point of sounding derivative and uninspired. “Open My Present” sounds like it was written by a five-year-old, with its borderline orgasmic sense of anticipation and amateurish lyrics like: “I’ve been patient / And waiting so long / But waiting any longer / It just feels wrong,” and “New Alphabet” isn’t any better as E! mumbles about having issues and wanting to do things his own way when life tries to get him down. The album somehow plods along for thirteen tracks, which is unfortunate as the album completely runs out of steam right around the time track nine, “True Original,” ends.
Wonderful, Glorious feels lost in its search to find the things its title seems interested in discovering, and maybe that’s the point. However, the album feels disingenuous in its delivery, and so even Everett’s oddball charisma can’t save this album from being a disappointment.