June 06, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a B+

Irony and cleverness, once the Eels’ primary refuges, are starting to give way to more resilient traits on the band’s fifth album. Though head Eel Mark Everett hasn’t entirely exorcised the wise guy within, Shootenanny! is downright moving at its best. It offers the Eels’ usual twisted take on California pop-rock, with more prominent blues voicings to complement the scrappy guitars and narcotized atmospherics. But this time, the underlying emotions wail (”Agony”), swoon (”The Good Old Days”), and rhapsodize (”Somebody Loves You”) with sincerity.

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