Head Eel Mark "E" Everett purges his soul with a smile on Shootenanny!
, as he delivers bursts of bittersweet wit and lighthearted drama. Unlike solemn 1996 epic Electro-Shock Blues
and 2001s thorny Souljacker
, E's songwriting here puts the emphasis on light melodies and clean pop craft. While his limber genre-jumping often earns comparisons to Beck, there's also some of Wilcos Jeff Tweedy in Es razor-burn voice. And though Shootenanny!
isnt out on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
s experimental ledge, it has a similar unruly twang that injects a dose of whimsy into soul-searching songs like "Love of the Loveless." "Wrong About Bobby," for instance, glides along on sunny, jangling guitars while E tries and fails to forgive a violent grudge. By mixing sweet with sour, E's warm and fuzzy mope rock sounds great whether it's blasting out of a convertible on a sunny day or playing in the background on a rainy night. --Matthew Cooke