Nowadays, bedroom artists introducing themselves to the world via hushed vocals atop tinny beats, twinkling keys and minimalist guitars are a dime-a-dozen. But back in 1998, a man called E followed up his critical and commercial breakthrough, Beautiful Freak, by baring his soul over his sister's suicide and mother's terminal lung cancer. And he did it using a major label budget.
It's hard to imagine just how startling a record like Electro-Shock Blues was at the time. Lead single "Last Stop: This Town" opened with the lines "You're dead, but the world keeps turning" set to one of the most saccharine melodies the decade produced. Despite the downer material, E even manages to find a silver lining on the album's final cut, "P.S. You Rock My World," the perfect bookend and a welcome respite after so much emotional upheaval.
Listening to the record today, it's shocking how of-the-moment it feels. E has continued to make melancholy pop music in the ensuing years, some of it quite brilliant. Yet no album can touch the brutal honesty and downright catchiness of Electro-Shock Blues.