Daisies of the Galaxy (2000) ***
Well, it's a collection of songs - 15 in total, less than half of which go on for over three minutes, which makes the album come across as both fragmentarily incomplete and going on far too long. Oh, of what importance is a conceptual framework: what made Electro-Shock Blues such a triumph was the grim sense of mood and purpose that pulled the likewise short little pop tunes into a whole more important and cohesive than its parts. Here instead we are left with a smorgasboard of most 2 1/2 minute little pop tunes, that's all: some are better than the others ("Grace Kelley's Blues," "Jeannie's Diary,") and same as last time, E perversely leaves the most commercially potentialized track for last, "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues." Not that it's necessarily the best track, but that "Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day," chorus seems tailor-made for airplay singalongability. As you might have guessed, good news is that E's mood seems to have brightened considerably - some of these tunes might even be considered upbeat (the aforementioned single, the ecologically conscious "Tiger In My Tank"), and the overall mood is much lighter and frothier, musically if not necessarily lyrically. The flip side of E's emergence into the light from morbid depression is that he's much less compelling: now he's simply another singer-songwriter who lives and dies by the relative quality of his tunes. And frankly, he's only inconsistently memorable, and I'm not sure if the pretty piano ballad, "It's a Motherfucker," would be memorable if not for the profanity of its title/chorus - in and of itself, melodically it's just sort of there. Which you can say about most of these songs: they're there. More or less completely ditching the hip hop influence and only occassionally dipping his toes into hard rock territory ("Flyswatter"), this resembles the first two E solo albums more than the previous two Eels albums. The album practically chokes on one over-orchestrated lush ballad after the other, which ensures a pleasant but perilously boring experience: E provides enough moments of electricity to jolt the listener awake, but in comparison to the varied musical approaches of the previous release, this album suffers from too much of the it-all-sounds-the-same syndrome. Ah well, E shows a more assured hand at lush pop than hard rock (see Beautiful Freak) but the songs are too hit and miss to earn a higher grade than that debut: there's fragmentary, and then there's simply unfinished.