Beautiful Freak

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Beautiful Freak
Beautifulfreak.jpg
Studio album by Eels
Released August 13, 1996
Recorded 1996
Genre Alternative rock[citation needed]
Length 43:53
Label DreamWorks
Producer
Eels chronology
Beautiful Freak
(1996)
Electro-Shock Blues
(1998)Electro-Shock Blues1998
Singles from Beautiful Freak
  1. "Novocaine for the Soul"
    Released: February 3, 1996
  2. "Susan's House"
    Released: May 5, 1996
  3. "Rags to Rags"
    Released: 1996
  4. "Your Lucky Day in Hell"
    Released: September 1, 1996
  5. "Beautiful Freak"
    Released: 1997

Beautiful Freak is the debut album by American rock band Eels. It was released on 13 August 1996 and is the first album released by record label DreamWorks.

Background and production[edit]

Beautiful Freak is largely the solo work of musician Mark Oliver Everett. It is his first album using the full band name Eels, in an attempt to get the records in the same general location in the stores as his previous works under the name "E".[1] The album is produced by E, Jon Brion, Mark Goldenberg and Michael Simpson.

Content[edit]

"Novocaine for the Soul" contains samples of "Let the Four Winds Blow" by Fats Domino; "Susan's House" contains a sample of "Love Finds Its Own Way" by Gladys Knight & the Pips; "Guest List" contains a sample of "I Like It" by The Emotions; and "Flower" contains sample of "I'm Glad You're Mine" by Al Green.

Album cover[edit]

Everett had suggested having a little girl with big eyes on the cover. The girl that came in to have her picture taken, Elle Brosh, incidentally looked "like a miniature Susan" to Everett, a girlfriend of his a few years before and the subject of the song "Susan's House".[1]

Release[edit]

Beautiful Freak was released on August 13, 1996, by record label DreamWorks, the first album released on the label. The album peaked at number 5 on the UK Albums Chart.[2]

Four singles were released to promote the album: "Novocaine for the Soul" in February 1996, "Susan's House" in May, "Your Lucky Day in Hell" in September, and the title track the following year. "My Beloved Monster" would appear on the soundtrack of the DreamWorks animated movie Shrek five years later.

The April 1997 German release of the album included a bonus live EP from a BBC recording session.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[3]
The Boston Phoenix 3/4 stars[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly B[6]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[7]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[8]
NME 5/10[9]
Q 4/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[11]
Select 5/5[12]

In a contemporary review of Beautiful Freak, Q praised the album as "a complete musical vision, a genre-spanning soundscape that reels you in with its myriad hooks".[10] Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Eels' maverick vision reminds you of all the great Los Angeles bands, from the Flying Burrito Brothers to X, that have chronicled the outsider, underdog attitude in the shadows of a record industry that never embraces them commercially."[8] Ethan Smith of Entertainment Weekly stated that "the Eels' postgrunge pop melodies and quirky, intelligent production make for catchy modern rock that's miles ahead of the competition", but felt that E's "attempts at warts-and-all portrayals of urban life come off as a disingenuous, arty pose" and that "a little less pretension would get these guys a lot further."[6] Chicago Tribune critic Mark Caro was less favorable, writing that E's lyrics paint him as "either naive and self-absorbed or patronizing and calculating".[13] The Village Voice's Robert Christgau assigned the album a "dud" rating,[14] indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought."[15]

In his retrospective review, James Chrispell of AllMusic wrote: "Concise pop tunes form the backbone of the album, yet tinges of despair and downright meanness surface just when you've been lulled into thinking this is another pop group".[3] Trouser Press wrote that "E's material works best when he finds the rare balance between his misanthropy and his capacity for warmth."[16]

Legacy[edit]

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[17]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Mark Oliver Everett, except as noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Novocaine for the Soul" Everett, Mark Goldenberg 3:08
2. "Susan's House" Everett, Jim Jacobsen, Jim Weatherly 3:43
3. "Rags to Rags"   3:53
4. "Beautiful Freak"   3:34
5. "Not Ready Yet" Everett, Jon Brion 4:46
6. "My Beloved Monster"   2:13
7. "Flower" Everett and Jacobsen 3:38
8. "Guest List"   3:13
9. "Mental"   4:01
10. "Spunky"   3:11
11. "Your Lucky Day in Hell" Everett, Goldenberg 4:28
12. "Manchild" Everett, Jill Sobule 4:05
German edition bonus disc
No. Title Writer(s) Length
13. "Novocaine for the Soul" Everett, Goldenberg 3:22
14. "Manchester Girl"   3:21
15. "My Beloved Mad Monster Party"   2:34
16. "Flower" Everett, Jacobsen 3:17

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Everett, Mark Oliver (2008). Things the Grandchildren Should Know. Little, Brown. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-316-02787-8. 
  2. ^ "Eels - Official Charts Company". Official Charts. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Chrispell, James. "Beautiful Freak – Eels". AllMusic. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ Steele, Amy (September 12–19, 1996). "Eels: Beautiful Freak (DreamWorks)". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  6. ^ a b Smith, Ethan (October 11, 1996). "Beautiful Freak". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ Sweeney, Kathy (February 14, 1997). "The Eels: Beautiful Freak". The Guardian. 
  8. ^ a b Hilburn, Robert (December 8, 1996). "Making a list? Checking it twice? Here are some guidelines to keep befuddled spouses, parents of teenagers and others on the right track.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  9. ^ Mulvey, John (February 22, 1997). "Eels – Beautiful Freak". NME. Archived from the original on October 2, 2000. Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "Eels: Beautiful Freak". Q (123): 147. December 1996. 
  11. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 273. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  12. ^ Lawrence, Eddy (March 1997). "Eels: Beautiful Freak". Select (81). 
  13. ^ Caro, Mark (January 3, 1997). "Eels: Beautiful Freak (Dreamworks)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 11, 1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Key to Icons". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  16. ^ Zwirn, Michael. "TrouserPress.com :: Eels". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  17. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2. 

External links[edit]