Eels Daisies of the Galaxy

Having stared death in the face on his last album, Eels front man E chooses life on his latest disc, which sees him feeding birds and singing about paradise reclaiming the parking lot. While 1998's Electro-Shock Blues was a clear-eyed look at grief, Daisies of the Galaxy threads E's darkly reflective songs with a ray of light offered by a panoply of keyed instruments, gently weeping guitars and a chiming church bells. With emotional songs candid and operatic enough to score the next P.T. Anderson movie, the Eels' new offering is another in a growing line of beautiful and eclectic albums that date back to the two solo albums E released on Polydor almost a decade ago. Sprinkling fairy dust on tracks such as "Wooden Nickels" and "Packing Blankets," the songwriter pulls inspiration from everyone from Randy Newman to John Philip Sousa, to give Daisies of the Galaxy its hazy cosmic vibe. Strains of loss seep into the mix, especially on the quiet lament "Estate Sale," but only briefly - perhaps to illustrate how far things have come. Then another upbeat, up-tempo track comes to chase the darkness away. (Dreamworks)