Mark Eitzel - The Invisible Man
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Mark Eitzel
The Invisible Man

If you wanted to be a bit analytical, one could probably look at the title of the new Mark Eitzel release and think that he's possibly making a snide jab at commercial radio. While image seems to be everything these days, Eitzel hides in a shadow on the cover, with only a jacket, shirt, and part of a scruffy jawline. A point could also be made about the work by Eitzel itself being largely ignored by the masses (although he's been embraced critically and in fervent smaller circles) over the course of the past 10 years (first with American Music Club, then as a solo artist), even though he's written consistently amazing songs.

For his first album in nearly 4 years, Eitzel goes a bit of a different direction than people might expect from him. After holing up and purchasing a Macintosh computer he (affectionately?) calls the "dumb ass," he completed roughly 40 different songs, 13 of which comprise The Invisible Man. The interesting new thing about this release, though, is that it incorporates various electronic elements into the mix. Before you start to worry that he's gone drum and bass or done it because everyone else is, this album needs to be heard.

Structuraly, the songs are the same as another Eitzel release and if you know his older work (the more mainstream West or the most stripped-down I'm Caught In A Trap And Can't Get Out Because I Love You Too Much Baby), you'll know that he's always been a master of subtlety and that hasn't changed here. Instead of adding beefed-up beats or anything like that to his songs, he's basically added electronic elements that are very slight, but enhance nearly every track with a couple more added layers that fill things out nicely without weighing the disc down at all.

In fact, on some songs you'd be hard pressed to notice anything different at all, the changes are so slight. The second track on the release "Can You See?" is one of the more upbeat songs on the disc, but the slightly off pitter-pat of the percussion gives things away without being obtrusive. On the other side of things are tracks like "Bitterness," where you think that electronic elements are going to rise up and going screeching out of control, but end up blipping and bleeping along and adding something interesting to the track while giving it some nice tension. Lyrically, Eitzel has penned several classic releases on the release as well, with subjects that range from hilarious (the interesting tale in "Christian Science Reading Room") to unrequited love ("Shine") to downright silly (the album closer of "Proclaim Your Joy" that puts sort of a goofy smile on the end of a sort of downcast album).

Basically, if you enjoy Mark Eitzel, you're not going to go wrong with this release. Although he's added some electronic elements to his repertoire without going overboard with anything. The 13 tracks on the release run about 53 minutes long and again shows that Eitzel is a total gem of a singer/songwriter who should not only be recognized for that, but for his contributions to indie rock in general with the seminal group American Music Club.

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00