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The Best Records of My Life: Eels – Beautiful Freak –

The Best Records of My Life: Eels – Beautiful Freak –

There are albums in the history of popular music that is defined as “basic”. 

They are often essential in the history of the artist I’m considering today for the “album of my life”.  

Still, they are usually fundamental in the general context of the history of rock music.

In 1996, “Beautiful Freak” by the Eels was released. In fact the first album under the pseudonym Eels, but in reality, it was the third test of Mark Oliver Everett, who until then had signed himself as “E”.  

The perfection in the twelve songs that make up the album is remarkable.

The cover is eye-catching, and the vocal tones, musical arrangements and lyrics as a whole are all in their right place.   I remember how I was struck by the first listening to this album.   

I remember how after 45 seconds of “Novocaine for the soul” I was already upright with very attentive ears and a heart that was already beating intensely.  

“Life is hard, and so am I, you’d better give me something, so I don’t die ..”.. yes, if you start an album like this, it is evident that I am waiting for the following texts to be framed forever in my life.  

In fact, the entire lyrics of “Beautiful Freak” is today an inexhaustible source for status on Facebook or Instagram, things that were not even conceivable at the time. “.. mother says I was a great mistake ..” and here you begin to understand that the album probably wants to go deep into Mark, as you know immediately after, when “Susan’s House” begins with its broken rhythms and the sinuous, sensual and frightening pop gait, which launches the Eels into the British Top 10, making them popular in the rest of Europe.  

I said that in the album there are twelve songs and they are all potential singles. When you have all the memorable songs in an album, it is clear that you have an essential work of art in front of you.  

To write this review, I put the CD back in the player, and I did for a week.  

I have to say that although I was not listening to it for a few years, not only did I not feel the years of old age, but I correctly remembered every single note, every change of style within the songs. And (worst of all ..) every single word!  

There are not many records that I have loved to the point of consuming them, that I still can listen to after so many years, but with this record, it seems that everything is still relevant.  

If it came out today, it would be as successful as it was at the time.  

After the first three songs, definitely unforgettable, the fourth piece, the same one that gives the title to the album comes with this passage from a children’s music, a dream close to the fairy tale.

This sweet and easy-going plan makes you move your head so sweet and unthinkable. 

It is a kind of dance on the gentle waves of the summer sea. Despite everything it tastes like honey pop, in reality, the song is about marginalization, of those who are outside society and have difficulty in being part of it.   “Not ready yet” is the following song, the best grunge track outside the official grunge circuit.

Those who loved Nirvana in a floating version, this piece can not know it. Only two minutes for “My Beloved Monster”, but two essential minutes. Song inserted within the Shrek soundtrack, a kind of “Song2” by Blur, even the short, concise one, full of screaming guitars. Unforgettable.  

Chorus of nuns, folk mandolin, the unforgettable Butch’s drum pitch and we’re in “Flower”, one of the first songs I loved from this album.  

I was surprised by hearing her after years of recognizing every single passage, I remembered that in the last 3-4 years of the previous century, I must have played this wonder at least a thousand times.   “… are you one of the beautiful people, is my name on the list, wannabe of the beautiful people, wanna feel like i’m missed …”, the first sentence that hits the heart from “Guest List”.

If at piece number 8 on the record and you ask yourself. “Hey, when do you stop hitting my heart so hard, Mr Everett?  

It is a Sad Song, with bitterness in the mouth for its entire duration, but at the same time pop of the highest class.   “Mental” returns to embrace the Grunge territories and (perhaps.) It Is the weakest piece of the entire album. “Spunky” follows and talks about his sister, who will be featured many more times on the group’s subsequent albums.  

For many, “Your lucky day in Hell” is the real manifesto song of the album, it has vital pop elements, indie scary and is a very catchy and lounge track. Romantic, fun, beautiful. Beautiful to die for.  

“Manchild”, asks for the album and it is a moment of intense intimacy, where Mark speaks from his heart to all his listeners.

There are great sound ideas, but it is Mark’s voice that strikes.  He comes out of the stereo system with arrogance, he seems to be present in the room where you listen to the right guy, and if you hear to the piece in the car, you think he is sitting next to you.  

After more than five years of loneliness, sad family events, depression and failed loves, Mark gives us his personal diary.

It is so touching that after 22 years we are still here to listen to it, review it, promote it and love it.  

Over the years I have proposed the album to dozens of people, much younger than me, and every time they have thanked me.

I do it again today, hoping that someone will still thank me and if in the end, you are ultra happy with the suggestion given, don’t stop here, because the two albums that follow this one, Electro-Shock Blues and “Daisie of the Galaxy” are equally unmissable.


Massimo Usai
Massimo Usai

Associate of British Freelance Photography

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