Within the last twenty years, Mark Oliver Everett (a.k.a. E) has recorded some of the most heartbreaking, shattering music ever. Take, for example, the semi-autobiographical Electro-Shock Blues (1998), frequently quoted as one of the most depressing, and greatest, records of all time. As Stylus magazine claimed in 2004, “There’s two kinds of people in the world: Those that understand that Electro-Shock Blues is the greatest album ever put together, and idiots.” But, after a few records that weren’t as critically admired as that one (although they were still well-received), can Mr. E return to his magnificent form?
Eels are known for their devastating, emotionally-heavy lyrics, often about suicide, cancer, drugs, and heart attacks. With End Times, however, Mr. E has gone down a different path altogether, singing about relationships, the failing of relationships and aging. Don’t be fooled by this change in style. E’s vocals are just as pained, growled and lovely as they have ever been, and even while there are more songs about girls than ever before on an Eels record, E still conveys all the right emotions through his perfect voice. Musically, the songs still have that same childish quality they’ve always had, with that eerie, brooding feel to them that E cleverly weaves underneath, that no other artist can replicate. No matter how cheery and innocent the songs may feel, you get a feeling of despair and hopelessness.
E’s vocals really stand out, as always. They sound horribly pained and truthful, as though he is truly baring his soul for everyone to see. As always, his songs have wonderful, pretty melodies and heartbreaking lyrics. End Times is a typical Eels record, and while it doesn’t break new ground in music like Electro-Shock Blues did twelve years earlier, it still stands out amongst the crowd as one of the better records released so far this year, and definitely is a good sign for the future of Eels.
Choice tracks: The Beginning; A Line In The Dirt; Nowadays; I Need A Mother; Little Bird
If you like: John Lennon; Death Cab For Cutie; Sparklehorse; Grandaddy; The Flaming Lips