Music News

Critic's Choice

The Eels have been invisible on the mainstream radar since their 1996 hit "Novocaine for the Soul." If the appearance of the band's enigmatic singer-songwriter E (Mark Oliver Everett) is any indication, the Eels have had no trouble embracing their status as commercial outcasts: These days, E is rocking a look best described as "Unabomber Chic," with his face completely obscured by oversized dark sunglasses, a hooded sweatshirt and the compulsory Montana-cabin-fever beard. On the band's recent release, Souljacker, the notoriously troubled E has also covered up. 1998's Electro-Shock Blues (an album recorded after the death of several of his family members), dove headfirst into E's mourning process, which at times was as hard to listen to as it was beautifully presented. Two records later, E has stepped away from his emotional microscope. Souljacker foregoes the melancholy for a much needed dose of the Eels' whimsical side: modest touches of idyllic-sounding strings, simple programmed beats under fuzzed-out guitars and a cast of odd characters that first reared their own peculiar heads on the band's debut, Beautiful Freak. At the Fox Theatre on Wednesday, April 3, watch the Eels trot the carnies out in song.
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Mat Hall