Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Spectactular Girl” by EELS from the 2010 album Tomorrow Morning on E Works.
You knew it would eventually have to be a sunny day in E’s neighborhood, but when his latest album opens with a light instrumental called “In Gratitude For This Magnificent Day,” you have a right to be suspicious. After all, the predictably downtrodden songwriter, Mark Oliver Everett, aka E, has written more than his share of loser ballads (“Dog Faced Boy”), survivor stories (“The Sound Of Fear”), and rebellious songs (“Saturday Morning”). But eels are known to be malleable creatures, escaping your grasp easily and even known to change colors at times, and Everett fancies himself and underdog fighter, so Tomorrow Morning is indeed another day for him, a day of redemption, and according to E himself, “A new beginning and another chance. The blooming of all new possibilities. The hope that was always there coming to fruition.” Following last year’s Hombre Lobo and End Times, released at the beginning of this year, Tomorrow Morning closes a three-album cycle of a relationship come and gone (and gone none too well!) and optimistically looks toward a new go ‘round. But lest you think songs like “Oh So Lovely,” “Baby Loves Me,” and “What I Have to Offer,” are fluff, Everett marks them up a bit with his typically gritty production elements and scratchy samples.
Today’s Song of the Day podcast, “Spectacular Girl,” is one of those scuffed but pretty songs, and like the rest of the album it seems both familiar and new. One of the more surprising elements, the opening electronic drumbeats, could make you think that this might be one of those out-of-genre explorations that independent songwriters often seem to follow [see also, Bob Mould's Modulate], but soon the comforting orchestral flourishes that made Daisies of the Galaxy a revelation ten years ago fill the gaps and spill over the edges, as E expounds the virtues of his new love. Throughout, though, Everett’s rough voice holds just enough foreboding and wariness, borne through experience and formed album after album, to keep you from believing that after tomorrow morning no other less sunny days will come. Too cynical a reading? Just check out the official video for another take on this “Spectacular Girl”:
EELS, by the way, are currently touring Europe but will be in Seattle on October 9 at the Moore Theater. Check out more tour dates and more songs from the new album on their MySpace page.