Fans of the Eels will be surprised to know that the band’s frontman, Mark “E” Everett, seems to have been lifted from his melancholy — a sentiment that has inspired the band’s previous material. Even the title of the Eels’ 10th record, Wonderful, Glorious, oozes optimism.
The album’s opener exudes funk and sex appeal, thanks to E’s unique vocals. The song Peach Blossom is melodically interesting, with a pounding, rhythmical drum and angry guitar.
On the Ropes does hark back to the indie rockers’ original sad sound with lyrics like: “I’m not knocked out, but I’m on the ropes.” It’s reminiscent of moments on the band’s Electro-Shock Blues (1998) and Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005) albums.
While Wonderful, Glorious is interesting and good, it doesn’t match up to the Eels’ previous work. We prefer E’s tortured soul.
— Sian Watson
When we last left Keller, Lawrence Block’s killer-for-hire anti-hero, he was on the run after being framed for a political assassination in the 2008 thriller, Hit and Run.
Now, five years later, we find living him living in New Orleans with a new identity, Nicholas Edwards. He’s got a charming new wife named Julia, who knows about his past, and daughter Jenny makes three. Instead of poisoning, strangling, or shooting people, he’s rehabbing and flipping houses.
But there’s not much of a market for houses these days, so Keller is spending a lot of time hanging out with the family and working on his stamp collection. So when his old murder broker, Dot, gets in touch about a job, he’s ready to get back into the game.
What Keller likes about the work is the meticulous planning that goes into each hit, so in the early chapters, that is what Block dwells on. The kills themselves are anticlimactic, each carried out with swift efficiency and without remorse.
But as Block gets deeper into the story, the planning, too, takes a back seat to the killer’s obsession with his hobby. Keller spends most of his time and energy attending stamp shows, bidding at stamp auctions and negotiating the sale of a seductive widow’s extensive collection. In the last third of the book, his profession seems almost an afterthought.
In the hands of a lesser writer, the philately passages would be insufferable, but Block makes them interesting in their own right as well a window into the soul of a hit man who can dispatch innocent bystanders without remorse but won’t cheat on his wife and insists on being scrupulously honest in the buying and selling of collectible stamps.
— Bruce DeSilva
One thing you can say about the Foals is that they always mix it up. Their first album, Antidotes, was loaded with heavy drumbeats, while Total Life Forever was more melancholic with beautiful lyrical prowess.
The British band sticks to their wild formula on the new album, Holy Fire. It opens with Prelude, a 4-minute long instrumental that blasts into Inhaler, showcasing a rockier side to the band. There are howling guitars and shouting vocals, courtesy of Yannis Philippakis.
My Number is addictive and could have jumped straight from a Talking Heads record. It is funky, uplifting and playful, and the lyrics illustrate optimism: “I feel the love, feel the love.”
Melancholia isn’t far away though, as the record swings back down with Bad Habit, which is a soulful lament. “I’m a bad habit, one you cannot shake,” sings Philippakis.
— Sian Watson