Review : Eels - End Times
StrangeglueRemember that episode of Father Ted where the "cured" suicidal priest gets on the bus at the end, newly rejuvenated by his subjection to overtly cheery music, only to be greeted by Radiohead's "Exit Music". Were it an American series, you could have easily swapped that one for Eels' "Lucky Day in Hell".
Cut to thirteen years later and 'downbeat' is still the watchword for Eels. On End Times though, there is far less set-dressing to lighten the mood. Recorded on a 4-track recorder, it is an album of stripped-down restraint. Relating tales of broken love through broken equipment. It seems a perfectly appropriate choice, especially with the folkish twist given to all the songs present.
Tracks like "Little Bird" are tailor-made to play on all the strengths of the band. The sombre, yet spirited guitar melody. Mark "E" Everett's husky, commanding yet intensely fragile performance which could grip you over the top of a 220 Hz Sine wave. After something of a step back from the unabashed introspection last time around on Hombre Lobo, the incredibly personal writings have returned. Chronicling the breakdown (allegedly) of his four-year marriage to Natasha Kovaleva, it is an album forged by grief: observant, honest, compelling and heart-rending grief. On "Little Bird", he sings "Little bird / Hoppin' on my porch / I know it sounds kinda sad / But what's it all for? / Right now you're the only friend I have in the world / And I just can't take out very much / Goddamn I miss that girl"....full text
PrefixmagLeave it to the unpredictable Mark Oliver Everett, a.k.a. E, to spend four years working on 12-track album Hombre Lobo and then produce another 14 songs just seven months later. End Times, his band Eels' eight full-length studio release, is a return to reality for Everett, who's calling it his "divorce album." The artwork, beautifully illustrated by graphic novelist Adrian Tomine, depicts a somber-looking man with a long gray beard standing in a street at night; since Everett's known for his impressively long facial hair, this could be a glimpse at a self-predicted morose future. Just scanning the tracklist reveals the depressing narrative of Everett's relationship with ex-wife Anna: the album kicks off with songs "The Beginning" and "In My Younger Days," and it grows tense with "A Line In The Dirt," "End Times" and "Unhinged." But there's hope for the frequently troubled songwriter; the ultimate track, called "On My Feet," suggests there may be emotional peace for Everett soon....full text
BbcUtters Mark Oliver Everett as Eels’ latest gets underway: “Everything was beautiful and free / In the beginning.” Over a threadbare backing track, he uses a few broad strokes to paint a picture of domestic bliss, his words at once tender, candid, and – this is an Eels record, after all – loaded with foreboding. What do you do when there’s nothing to do? If you’re with the one you love, Everett suggests, do whatever. After all, you’ve done the hard part already.
End Times is concerned with what comes next: what happens when it ends, when for one reason or another – or many – you lose the one you love. The question here is less how you mend a broken heart, more how you mend a heart that’s been battered, bruised and dragged around the block as many times as this one. The answers come peppered with dry wit and keen observation; the kind of pathos Everett has spent seven albums (nine, if you include early 90s works A Man Called E and Broken Toy Shop) perfecting.
Although contemplation of heartache and loss is hardly Eels covering new ground (see 1998’s wrenching Electro-Shock Blues, or 2005’s sprawling double album Blinking Lights and Other Revelations), End Times plays to Everett’s strengths, offering enough intrigue and wonder to keep happy listeners new and old....full text
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