Eels Souljacker

The mystery man called E returns with his fourth Eels effort, and finally the clouds of death and despair that hung over Electro-Shock Blues and Daisies of the Galaxy have broken. This happier, funkier E wants to rock, and rock he does on Souljacker, an album that features more upbeat tunes and some of the best arrangements and instrumentation Eels have yet explored. E is in tune enough to rip from the best, combining Esquivel's eccentric pop sensibilities with some of his more straightforward, keyboard-laced offerings. Always heavy on the fuzz, the guitars and E's vocals need a lint trap at times to cut through the sweater balls that cling to their sound, but that remains one of the great joys of Souljacker. But unlike the previous two thematically weighty efforts, this album won't bring you down - in fact, most of the lyrics are less than inspired material. It's the fuzzy fun fur Muppet rock that will keep you coming back. (Dreamworks)