417 of 1001 Albums: Eels’ Beautiful Freak

If you’re a fan of Shrek or Scream then you might have heard the band pop in the movies with two of their hit songs, “My Beloved Monster” and “Your Lucky Day in Hell.” Oddly, since these are their most popular songs and did appear in movies they seem to have also sold the rights, so the songs can’t be listened to on Spotify with the rest of their album.

History: This is the debut album from the Eels released in 1996. Also, to make sense of it being used in the movies it was used in the album was the first on Dreamworks Records. Now it all makes sense as to how they dictate all that! What is also pretty cool is that this album is mainly a solo work from Mark Oliver Everett. The critical reviews for the album was generally positive.

Vocals: Mark Oliver Everett, or E, as he is called, is the lead vocalist. The vocals do sound good, and while his voicing is more monotone it does fit the overall vibe of the music. His voicing keeps the song sort of somber, but it mixes with the odd nature of the album. The whole album sticks to the tone that we get straight from seeing the cover art with the little girl on the cover. “Beautiful Freak” seems to be one of the more popular hits outside of the ones featured on movies that has vocals that stand out. Overall, though it seems a large part of their success was being featured on the movies.

Instrumentals: A variety of instruments are used, and while there is the 90’s sound on the album I think that this album is creative enough to have a vibe that suits more modern arrangement as well. E plays the guitar as well, and while he is noted as being one of the solo parts of the album he does seek help from other musicians. Butch is on drums and a range of other instrumentals for the album. Tommy Walter is on bass guitar. It’s almost like whatever E couldn’t play all with whatever else he was doing he got help for. The two instrumentalists though they form the band also contribute with backing vocals as well.

Recording: There was this band Starflyer 59 that came out with an album in the early 2000s. Not many have heard of them since most of their marketing was heavily in the Christian area, but the band largely put me in mind of this album. There is a unique take on the vocals and instrumentals that allows this album to still be something easy to hear nowadays. I feel a large part of their success though was the deal with Dreamworks, though maybe that is why they never went any further either since they are very restrictive on the song rights.

The Eels make for an interesting listen. It’s a little slow, but there are songs that keep it interesting. By the end with songs like “Manchild” the songs get quite slow. It’s like the album is winding it’s own self down. If you’re a fan of the few hits you’ve heard from them you’ll probably like the rest of the album though. It’s definitely the 90’s alternative vibe.

Rating 6 of 10.

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