Sunday, February 28, 2010

Medical Conditions: Dead of Winter

Eels: Dead of Winter


Though the mix of music drifts from folk to fluid indiepop to a kind of gritty, sparse No Depression balladry, death haunts Mark Oliver "Eels" Everett's 1998 album Electro-Shock Blues. The record is simply stunning, a complex yet ultimately hopeful response to a difficult season of loss - in the year before its release, Mark experienced his sister's suicide, his mother's cancer diagnosis, and the deaths of several friends - and if and when I ever lose someone that close, friends should be forewarned that record is on schedule to become my mantra of grief and reconciliation.

Fragile and slightly out of tune, the first-person narrative of being on the outside looking in at his mother's slow degeneration here is heartbreaking, especially in the way it superimposes the stark description of radiation treatment with the befogged mundania of the still world which Everett inhabits as his mother's illness progresses. Its album counterpart, the soft and beautiful Climbing To The Moon, offers a sense of closure and distance for what would come to pass, and like the rest of the album, it comes highly recommended, too - as does tiny self-reflective b-side After the Operation, which I first posted here in our Shorties theme almost exactly a year ago.

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