Put simply, Everclear
is American Music Club
's masterpiece. Benefiting immensely from improved production values, the album crystallizes the band's often erratic vision into a unified, endlessly complex whole. While the arrangements are typically diffuse -- "Crabwalk" is shambling rockabilly, "Royal Cafe" is sweet country-pop, and "Rise" is anthemic alt-rock -- there is a consistency of tone and a sense of place that runs through these songs that is absent from the band's other records. Similarly, Mark Eitzel
's compositions achieve an uncommon emotional balance, never once slipping into pathos or melodrama; the atmospheric "Miracle on 8th Street" and "The Confidential Agent" offer cinéma vérité evocations of relationships at the breaking point, while the brute force of alcoholic laments like "Sick of Food" or the funereal "Why Won't You Stay" is staggering -- never before or since has this loser been quite so beautiful.