March 13, 2000 12:00 PM

Eels (DreamWorks)

The music of Mark Oliver Everett—a singer-songwriter known as E from a previous incarnation as a solo artist—is deceptively, lyrically quiet. But lurking beneath delicately orchestrated horn and string parts and easy-shuffle tempos are the raw feelings of frustration, anger and longing. Critically acclaimed for the Eels’ 1998 CD Electro-shock Blues, a project inspired by his sister’s suicide and his mother’s cancer-related death, Everett has never shied away from difficult emotions. This is not as grim it sounds. At their best, the Eels (with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck sitting in here) recall the Rascals and other good-timey ’60s groups. Only the sentiments are serious. They’re also wonderfully evocative. Swept along by a soaring organ riff, the listener actually feels cheered by bittersweet lyrics like “Packing blankets and dirty sheets/ A roomful of dust and/ A broom to sweep up/ All the troubles/ You and I have seen.”

Bottom Line: Out-there pop pearls

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