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Songs for ex-lovers
on 2 March 2010
Eels albums tend to fall into one of two categories; autobiographical masterpieces like Electro-Shock Blues and Blinking Lights and Other Revelations and more straight ahead rock albums like Shootenanny! and Souljacker. Hombre Lobo fell into the latter category, End Times is Mr. E's latest foray into the former, with spectacular results to almost equal those previous two classics.
While E is remaining uncharacteristically tight lipped about the real life details this time around, this is broadly a break-up album, and the conflict and confusion of separation are rendered with his typically straightforward emotional directness. Falling somewhere between the martyred self-righteousness of Blood On The Tracks and Sea Change's rueful melancholy, E is alternately venomous (the frantic fuzz of Unhinged, the disses of I Need a Mother) and tender (the longing recollections of acoustic opener The Beginning, the plaintive and lonesome Little Bird).
Many of the songs are stark in execution, the comparison to the blues is a good one I think. The Beginning, End Times and Little Bird are just Mr.E and his guitar. This, along with interludes of rain, a telephone ringing and spoken address really create a feeling of intimacy, as though you're right there in Everett's basement with him. A Line in The Dirt and the Neil Youngish Nowadays are more lushly arranged, and this works well too, with the melodies brought out in a really beautiful way.
I'm a little puzzled by some of the negative reviews here. To criticise an Eels album for being bleak, or for following an established musical template, at this stage seems a little like renting Jean Claude Van Damme's latest straight to DVD spectacular then complaining that the plot's a little thin, or that you've seen him doing roundhouse kicks before. I would have no hesitation recommending this to Eels fans, and for those who appreciate E's sense of humour, the two disc edition has to be the one. The porch ballad $200 Dollar tattoo, featuring the immortal brag, "It hurt a little, man it hurt a lot, but a man who won't commit is something I'm not" is classic stuff.