The Eels' second release, Electro-Shock Blues, is a much darker album than their underrated debut, 1996's Beautiful Freak, but just as rewarding. Singer/guitarist/songwriter E experienced many upheavals in his personal life between albums (the passing of several family members and close friends), and decided to work his way through life's tribulations via his music. The result is a spectacular epic work, easily on par with such classic albums cut from the same cloth -- Neil Young's Tonight's the Night, Lou Reed's Magic and Loss. For some of the most introspective and haunting tunes of recent times, look no further than the title track, "Last Stop: This Town," and "Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor." And although the lyrics deal almost entirely with mortality, the music for "Hospital Food," "Cancer for the Cure," and "Going to Your Funeral, Pt. 1" is comparable to Beck's funky noise, while "Efils' God," "The Medication Is Wearing Off," and "My Descent Into Madness" are all ethereal, soothing compositions. One of the finest and fully realized records of 1998, a must-hear.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
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