Despite recent forays into motion picture soundtracks and organic codger hip-hop, Mark Oliver Everett has returned to pop fold with Shootenanny!
, his first Eels album in two years and the first to be written under his new role as a devoted family man. Mercifully, he's dropped the pseudo-gangster rock shtick he's wielded for the past couple years, opting instead for a summery blend of sunburst hooks and syrupy lyrical sentiment wedged somewhere between the forlorn whimsipop of Daisies of the Galaxy
and the acerbic vigor of Souljacker
Opening faux-blues stomper "All in a Day's Work" and capricious ode "Rock Hard Time" (which, incidentally, swipes its melody line from T. Rex's "Children of the Revolution") show us E at his most nihilistic, poking fun at both himself and the garage-rock phenomenon that has left his brand of unpredictable pop music queuing at the dole office and begging for commercial food stamps. Elsewhere, "Restraining Order Blues" and "Lone Wolf" hark back to the eloquently depressed days of Electro-Shock Blues, the sublimely optimistic "Somebody Loves You" is aberrantly lovely, and the jaunty "Wrong About Bobby" is pure AM delight, suited for airwaves the world over.
While it's not Everett's most focused effort, musically speaking, Shootenanny! triumphs by projecting an uncharacteristically jovial mood it projects, and the dawning realization for listener and author alike that our worst days appear to be behind us.