Review of eels album Hombre Lobo released through Vagrant Records.
For someone who has been making music in one form or another over the best part of a quarter of a century, Mark ‘E’ Everett shows no respite of ever resting on his laurels, or just releasing music at regular intervals for the sake of it. In the eyes of many, his most noteworthy compositions have come during this past decade culminating in 2005’s personally traumatic double album ‘Blinking Lights And Other Revelations’, which dealt with the death of his parents and his sister’s suicide in quite a sophisticated, yet uncompromising manner.
Of course there are still going to be some who only remember Eels for ‘the hit’, ‘Novocaine For The Soul’, the single released way back in 1997 that undoubtedly broke Everett and co. over this side of the Atlantic, but that in all honesty, was a different line-up both in terms of musical and lyrical composition bar one to what has followed since. Sometimes a source of amusement, they have got through several band members since their conception, some such as John Parish and Butch Norton, having since gone on to forge largely successful careers of their own.
Having gained a reputation as not being the easiest of people to work with, Everett has gone back to basics here on what is Eels seventh studio album, ‘Hombre Lobo’, the current line-up now stripped down to a three-piece. What we have here then is essentially a garage rock record that occasionally lends itself an alt-country Stetson probably garnered from Everett’s past, and although quite not as moving lyrically as the aforementioned ‘Blinking Lights…’, still manages to fuse some of its creator’s most heartfelt couplets to the most simplistic, yet affecting musical accompaniment he could possibly muster.
Comprising of twelve tracks in all, while ‘Hombre Lobo’ might not be considered as novel or groundbreaking as ‘Beautiful Freak’ or ‘Souljacker’ in terms of originality, it has a wistful honesty about it that suggests Everett has experienced enough torment to last him a lifetime, and while we’re not in the least suggesting his life becomes even more unbearable, its highly unlikely any Eels album in the future will contain references to happy days and golden sunshine! Instead, what we get here are three-minute off kilter rockers (‘Lilac Breeze’, ‘Tremendous Dynamite’, ‘Fresh Blood’) combined with honey-dripping laments (‘That Look You Give That Guy’, ‘My Timing Is Off’) culminating in the record’s undoubted standout, ‘All The Beautiful Things’, where he desolately opines ‘Every day I wake up, and wonder why? I’m alone when I know I’m a lovely guy’ over a gorgeous, softly strummed melody that recalls My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Kiss The Eclipse’.
Throw in a little bit of punk-infused reggae (‘Beginner’s Luck’) and even a sprinkling of Northern Soul (‘What’s A Fella Got To Do’) and you’ve a mixed bag of tricks here that when pulled together under one complete banner, is possibly one of the most humble yet surprisingly compelling records you’ll hear all summer.