Mark Everett is on pace with David Bowie when it comes to creative reinvention, having successfully meshed his roles as obscure baroque pop crackpot (as A Man Called E) and critically/commercially acclaimed alternapop whiz kid (as the main man in Eels). Within his body of work, Everett has donned many creative hats -- multi-instrumentalist, producer, megalomaniacal bandleader -- and produced some of the most thought-provoking and satisfying pop of the '90s, from the wry fringe pop of his early E work to his stunning turn with the Eels, beginning with the wildly successful "Novocaine for the Soul" from Beautiful Freak in 1996.
With Souljacker, the fourth Eels studio album, Everett again shuffles his creative deck. From the Unabomber-with-a-puppy cover art to the Beck-like, hip-pop cacophony within, it's clear that Everett has reconciled the losses that led to the melancholy ruminations of Electro-Shock Blues in 1998 and its slightly more uplifting 2000 follow-up, Daisies of the Galaxy. E co-writes nearly everything with U.K. multi-instrumentalist John Parish, resulting in an album that sets its angst and anger to a soundtrack that blends classic pop and hip-hop folkadelica.
Granted, Souljacker might surprise some recent converts to the Eels' bleak pop canvas, but longtime E fans will understand the shift without a second notice.