Another Eels album, another prescription of melancholic indie rock. You know the drill by now. On their 12th studio album, The Destruction, Mark Oliver Everett and his dependable friends rarely venture out of the vintage Eels blueprint, which has developed into something of a comfort zone for listeners over the years.
Thankfully, after a handful of forgettable releases in the past decade or so, it seems that E’s songwriting has found fresh form. His songs, and the immaculate production that goes with them, can be predictable, but they’re almost always worth it in the end. I can’t imagine anyone other than E writing something like “Sweet Scorched Earth”, which is the closest we’ve come to an Eels ‘classic’ in quite some time. It reminds me of a sugary-sweet Disney ballad.
As a whole, The Deconstruction doesn’t quite function as it should, though it gets close. I could certainly do without the interludes. Having the pensive tones of “The Quandary” come in after just two tracks creates an air of confusion, which is probably the complete opposite of what it was trying to achieve. Fortunately, most of the beat-driven tracks are gold, with “Today is the Day” and “You are the Shining Light” being personal highlights. It’s the slower, more sombre songs that let the album down, particularly during its closing moments.
Still, there are far more hits than misses on The Deconstruction. It doesn’t touch the heights of Daisies of the Galaxy or Electro-Shock Blues, but it sure beats the majority of E’s more recent material. There’s a degree of comfort to his music that is still unmatched, and his latest record certainly does the job. Sometimes, a dose of E is all you need.
7 out of 10
The Deconstruction is another album by Eels. That’s what it sounds like. The production has depth and colour, the songs are arranged with care, and E sings/talks gruffly about love and being sad. It’s a good, honest serving of Eels. It’s also nothing new. The Deconstruction rarely perks up my ears. “Rusty Pipe” and “You Are the Shining Light” come closest, dipping as they do into a novel world of flutes and strings, but even they aren’t pushing things particularly far. For the most part, this is Radio E frequency.
Most of the record is a bit too comfortable for my tastes. There are no bursts of mad energy, few spells of Mr E’s signature grooves. The Deconstruction is a more ruminative project, and that’s ok. Good, in fact. The problems arise from how familiar it sounds. Opportunities for new, exciting experiences are undermined by the nagging suspicion that, one way or another, I’ve heard this all before. It has the warmth and comfort of a light-night conversation with an old friend, as well as the melancholy tint you get upon realising most of it was spent reminiscing.
6 out of 10
I don’t think I have a bad word to say for any of the content on The Deconstruction. In fact, there’s a lot to like here, with the title track opening proceedings in great fashion, sitting well alongside the likes of “Bone Dry” and “You Are The Shining Light”, which bring a driving energy that you’ll likely know well if you’ve listened to previous Eels material. Similarly, you’ll find the sweet, delicate moments that long-time fans have been accustomed to in “Sweet Scorched Earth” and “The Epiphany”. It’s all very familiar, cosy, and comfortable, and while that’s not detrimental in itself, it can, at times, feel a little too close to ‘more of the same’.
The Deconstruction certainly feels more ambitious, with swathes of lush string orchestration and well-polished production across the tracklist, but it particularly shines during the quirkier tracks that inhabit a more interesting character, such as “Rusty Pipes”, a song that manages to retain all the Eels hallmarks, while also sticking out from the rest a little. This song, alongside most of the others I’ve mentioned as highlights, all tend to be earlier on in the album too, leading to a lost feeling as I listen to the latter half, with each track taking a downtempo, quieter mood.
I’d love to see more of the quirk; more of the character that peeks out at moments in The Deconstruction. And while I still don’t feel any negativity toward this album, I also don’t feel any love that would elevate it to greater heights and make it a worthy competitor of Eels material of the ’90s.
6 out of 10