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This review is from: Hombre Lobo (Audio CD)
The follow up to E's second confessional masterpiece Blinking Lights and other Revelations is a much more straight up rock record in the model of Souljacker and Shootenanny! Ostenisibly a concept record about the Dog Faced Boy who first popped up on Souljacker and who is now apparently a werewolf, it deals in a number of dualities.
Initially alternating between upbeat rockers full of bravado, sexually charged come ons and E literally howling like a wolf; and more fragile, sensitive ballads dealing in frustrated longing and powerlessness, I think there's a number of interesting ways to read what E is doing. Are the loud, macho numbers an expression of the Id and the checks to that offered in the quieter, more reserved songs representative of the super-ego? Or is the contrast between an idealised version of romance and the self and the deflating reality at each turn? Or are the rock songs the moments the character 'transforms' into a werewolf and the ballads when he changes back to his more mild-mannered self?
Whatever the case, it's a great concept for a record, but one which E seems to abandon halfway through Hombre Lobo's running. Which is a shame, because great as these songs are, that's the one thing that really sets them apart from what E's done before.
Don't get me wrong, I love everything Eels put out and this is no exception. The likes of Lilac Breeze and Prizefighter are insanely catchy, Tremendous Dynamite and Fresh Blood do shake up the musical template with a heavier sound, and closer Ordinary Guy is, typically for an Eels album, beautiful and life-affirming. It would be churlish to complain it's "just another excellent set of songs", and appreciated against that criteria you can't go wrong.