A number of reviews that precede mine have already addressed how "Blinking Lights..." compares and rates within Eels discography, so I will not even attempt to do that, since I could not do it better nor offer much of a different opinion.
What I do want to share here, because the power of its music took me there without much of a choice on my part, is how this album stands so firmly and beautifully on its own, and it takes Eels music even farther that it has managed to go so far.
You've probably read already about Eels' "E" Everett's tragic family losses -her mother and sister dying within a short frame of time several years ago, her sibling by committing suicide- and about this double album being a diary of sorts of his coming to terms with these events, written and worked on for close to seven years.
I assume that some people -whether out of empathy, solidarity or morbid curiosity- may have been attracted to this music given reports of his mental fragility and their love for this man's music. In my case -nothing I'm necessarily proud of- when it comes to any art form, the artist's life is secondary: neither something I believe to predict the beauty or value of their work, nor a guarantee of depth because their subject is apparently serious.
Bottom line, I want to hear someone who can say something ... anything -that although very personal- has the capacity to be relevant to my life and help me learn something about the world that I was too busy or too dense to have noticed by myself. In other words, I don't want to read someone else's "journal" but make more sense of mine.
This is where Everett has succeeded so much. Whether you've been through similar or so much grief as he has or not, this music is going to educate your heart and bless you with some of the most moving songs you may hear all year.
As he sings on "The Trouble With Dreams," "the problem with dreams is that you never know / when to hold and when to let go," yet Everett chose, perhaps, the hardest path: to take on every dream and find out which ones keep close and which ones he was ready to say goodbye to.
In that sense, these songs, at times, may be somber but not depressing. There's no wallowing in pain but a diary of personal healing. Honest and sad, hopeful and tender, Eels' songs make his experience matter to anyone human and willing enough to hop on for the ride.
Musically, you can expect the depth and variety he's already shown in past albums: hushed folk confessions, gorgeous pop moments, timely strings and disturbing passages. All in all, this is further proof of Everett's impressive musical breadth and remarkable depth of feeling.
Even if you are a long time fan of Eels, "Blinking Lights ..." is bound to hold surprises for you. If not new sounds perhaps, there will certainly be special moments, where the vulnerability, candor and courage of these songs will take you over, and leave you seeing with new eyes.