E of Eels fame takes a shot at Cocktail Nation kitsch/techno under the moniker of “MC Honky”. He’s about 10 years too late, but so what? I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff (Combustible Edison, Tipsy, Thievery Corps, Euro Boys). But is E’s late arrival to this genre worth the ticket price? The story E cooked up is that MC Honky, a reclusive, middle-aged sound engineer, decided to take his massive collection of records and make an electronica album of what he calls “self-help rock.” That fiction sets the tone for I Am The Messiah, which works pretty well overall. There’s some tricky mixing going on (“The Baby That Was You”), and some priceless samples of kitschy old records. E even throws down the gauntlet at Beck (“3 Turntables & 2 Microphones”). Some of this would be right at home in the club scene (“Sonnet No.3 (Like A Duck)”, “The Devil Went Down To Silverlake”); other cuts lean toward ambient/trance. And some other cuts sound like B-side Eels tracks (“My Bad Seed,” “Soft Velvety ‘Fer”), and add only filler.
So what to make of it? This isn’t exactly a retro-purist’s dream come true, but it is interesting and does expand the genre. If you’re looking for truly great lounge electronica, get Tipsy. Taken another way, it’s an unusually upbeat Eels album, although not a great one. “Sonnet No.3 (Like A Duck)” does rock, and wonderfully mixes a Shakespearean sonnet with an exercise record. That will make you put on yer dancin’ shoes.