Since "A Man Called E" first appeared in 1992, consummate miserablist E (Mark Oliver Everett) has made a sleeper career out of turning his wispy, philosophical mopes into tiny, rollicky celebrations -- somehow combining the chirpy surprises of Beck's fantasy with the dried-liver drone of Paul Westerberg. On "Daisies of the Galaxy," E (assisted by Peter Buck, among others) easily transcends his previous four efforts (two as E, two as his always-evolving eels project) by establishing a looser, richer, more humorous frame for the singer/songwriter's simple poetic dismissals. Case in point: "I Like Birds" jigs through a bouncy folk-strum, offering, "I can't look at the rocket launch, the trophy wives of the astronauts."
"Daisies" is a strange party indeed, one that matches every bad with a good, without ever tripping on smugness or irony. It all ends with the crowning hidden track (and first single), "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues," full of horn-punched, drum-tracked cheeriness and verses of universal despair pressed against a chorus of "God damn right, it's a beautiful day." God damn right, it is.