With Blinking Lights, the reliably melancholic and irresistibly melodic Eels deliver a packed-to-the-gills, two-disc album that roams roads both worn and new. Songs worth pulling over for include the wistfully shimmering "In the Yard, Behind the Church," the nursery-school-sweet "The Stars Shine in the Sky Tonight" and the knee-pumping "Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)," an upbeat anthem that keeps every pop promise down to the "sha la la"s. Created over a period of several years, largely in a basement under Los Angeles, Blinking Lights is a lumpy grab bag that features the signature softly strained vocal stylings of lead singer/songwriter E, aka Mark Oliver Everett, along with well-pedigreed contributions by Peter Buck and Tom Waits. Speaking of the latter, one of the album's most touching tangents is the waltzy, Waits-esque "Last Time We Spoke," which offers this heart-wrenching lyric of universal truth: "Nothing hurts like someone who knows everything about you leaving you behind." Ouch. Kudos aside, though, if about half the songs on Blinking Lights had been left behind, it wouldn't have hurt.
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