After releasing a critically acclaimed trilogy, E (Mark Oliver Everett), the frontman of Eels, decided to shake things up a bit for the group's latest record.
So the group went into its Los Angeles studio with absolutely no plans, songs or other preplanned material. The result is the seemingly aptly named album "Wonderful, Glorious."
"It was the first time we went into [the studio] without a plan. I hadn't done that before. But it seemed a worthy experiment to work from a completely blank slate," said Everett. "It was scary at first, because it could have been a complete disaster. But when a disaster is a possibility, that could be a good thing."
Apparently, that was true in this case, as evidenced by the numerous critical thumbs up the album has received. Although the songs on the album are the alt-rock, pop, blues sounds for which Eels is known, the feel of the album is completely different than the trilogy released in 2009 and 2010.
|Eels with Jesca Hoop and Carla Rhodes, rock 'n' roll ventriloquist|
|» Where: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW|
|» When: 7 p.m. Sunday|
|» Details: $25; 877-987-6487; 930.com|
On "Hombre Lobo," "End Times" and "Tomorrow Morning," Everett explored the angst and anguish of his life by way of conversations about family deaths, depression and other life-changing conditions.
Perhaps it's telling that the song "Peach Blossom" -- on which Everett sings, "You gotta love what's happening here" -- came together in such a way that it shaped the entire album, or certainly Everett's view of it.
"That's when I first realized, 'OK, we are all clicking,' " he said, noting the riff is what initially sold him on the song. "A lot of these songs are like five songs in one atmosphere in experience. 'Peach Blossom' has a lot of different sections; it's about five different songs."
You might want to credit Everett and his bandmates mixing it up on instrumentation for that free-form development. He talks about breaking the habit of playing one instrument -- such as a guitar -- and instead turning to something different, such as a Hammond organ.
Of course, the diligence that went into a trilogy also prompted Everett to take a less structured approach to this effort.
The downside, if there is one, is that what works in the studio sometimes needs massive tweaking before it is played live. That's certainly the case for the songs on this album, many of which comprise the set lists on the group's current tour. However, the band is also playing fan favorites.
"I never think about [how songs in the studio will translate live] when we're in the studio. I never think, 'Oh, s--t, this will be a bummer onstage,' " he said. "When it's time to go onstage, that's when I think, 'Oh, s--t.' That's when it does become an issue. But we never strive to record recordings for the live experience. ... That's one of the [best] parts, that you can take an old song from 15 years ago and play it like you want to today."