Track This: Eel's "Not Ready Yet"

When I was in High School, I was addicted to the Eels. Their combination of maudlin lyrics and E's world weary vocals really touched me. I fell in even deeper when Mark Oliver Everett slowed back down and started making records that were more similar to his first solo records, A Man Called E and Broken Toy Shop. But there was something about that first album; it rocked, while speaking particularly to my teenage frame of mind. I wanted to hide in my room all the time, cranking music that mirrored my angst. When I feel this way now, I just put Beautiful Freak on and hide for a few hours, even though my head is in a much better place. The album asks for, but also acts as shelter against the arrows and slings of the outside world. Its loud moments are always tempered by slower sections, where E sings his heart out in a primal call to arms.

In "Not Ready Yet," E sings, "If I leave my room, don't you tell me to lighten up / Maybe sometime sooner or later / But I don't think I'm ready yet / I'm not feeling up to it now." The track rises to a crescendo while the narrator addresses those who want him to face the world. He will when he's damn good and ready. The music is more amplified than much of the later Eels output, yet it still tends toward the tragic and beautiful. The keyboard and drums anchor the music, before the lead guitar kicks in to overdrive, building and swirling in moments of electric bliss.

Beautiful Freak remains a love letter to dissolute sadness and pain tinged with a slight sense of hope. In "Not Ready Yet," the narrator allows for hope that he will make it out of his bad situation. Other tracks like the equally dour "Rags to Rags" and "Mental" elaborate on this theme. The title track, "Spunky," and "Flower" all offer other kinds of redemption. Post-Grunge wankery wasn't all that was going on in 1996 -- Beautiful Freak still rewards repeat listens.

Track This is a recurring feature of Snobbin' that turns the music appreciation dial up and rips it off of your stereo. It attempts to introduce a new track, allow readers to rediscover an underappreciated track, or just serve as a forum to flat out discuss a track that falls into the ear candy category and should be listened to unabashedly for years to come.


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