Since the release of the last Eels album, 2010’s cold and electronic leaning piece of sunshine Tomorrow Morning, Mark Oliver Everett, forever known to fans as simply E,has toured the world twice over. Everett has noted in various interviews that he and longtime Eeels guitarist entered their studio last Summer with no plan – they were just going to make a record - leaving fans wondering if the resulting album would play like something more akin to some of the the groups more poignant and personal efforts like 1998’s Electro-Shock Blues or skew towards the more muscular sound of 2003’s Shootenany? The promise of another solid album is there at the beginning of Wonderful, Glorious, the result of those sessions, but whatever potential this song cycle kicks off with, sadly dissipates over the duration of the albums fifty minute run time.
Opener “Bombs Away” ticks and tocks, teetering on the brink of what you think will be something rather explosive. But when the pin is finally pulled from the grenade, the bomb is a dud of a thud, albeit a good one, as Everett’s signature howl emits like smoke across the sky. Advance singles “New Alphabet” and “Peach Blossom” gave the impression months ago that fans were in for an album of hard hitting rock numbers one after the other, but sadly the hits don’t come any harder.
At times Wonderful, Glorious gets rather funky, like the four-on-the-floor disco romp of the title track, or the awkwardly psuedo-sexual “Open My Present”. Fortunately for longtime fans, there’s still the morsel here and there to keep a hold of for future Eels mixtapes. The centerpiece of the album is the maudlin and mopey “The Turnaround”. A song that starts out reminiscent of the introspective “The Longing” from 2009’s Hombre Lobo quickly escalates as The Chet’s intricate guitar playing gels with Everett’s voice as he screams over and over about the six dollars in his pocket and the shoes on his feet.
Back in 2009 when Everett released the fuzzy and ballsy Hombre Lobo to the masses, it was part of a grander plan he had yet to unveil: a trilogy of albums that chronicled three different points in the recent years of his life. Musically, Wonderful, Glorious is on par with some of Everett’s best work, without a map to guide him and his band of misfits this time around, there’s not much to write home about. And while there are a few songs worthy of repeat listens in the very near future, the album as a whole falls short of living up to its title.