Eels – End Times [Album Review]

by oz on January 19, 2010

end times

It had been four years between Eels’ 2005 release Blinking Lights And Other Revelations and 2009’s Hombre Lobo. Mark Oliver Everett had taken some time to write a book, travel the globe (a few times) and make a documentary about his father. Six short months after Hombre Lobo, however, the songwriter behind the Eels moniker is back with End Times, the most personal album since Electro-Shock Blues that dealt with the death of his mother, father and sister.

Everett is no stranger to loss. With the tragedy he’s endured in his life, you’d think that breakups would be trivial. This is obviously not the case because some unnamed lady has the guy reeling. End Times is a chronicle of heartache in a dying world. It’s about an aging man losing love in a world where the integrity of humanity is decaying before his eyes. Everett says “This will be some people’s favorite EELS album and some people’s least favorite EELS album. I’m prepared for that.”

I do like End Times, but I’m not sure that any Eels fan would call this their favorite. After a few listens, I started picturing Mikey from the movie Swingers, laying in bed feeling sorry for himself.‚  I wanted to tell Everett to snap out of his self-pity and move on. Let’s hear something uplifting. That being said, for an album released 6 months after its predecessor, this is not a batch of B-Sides. It is an entirely different body of work that’s refreshing reprieve from the intensity and primal energy of Hombre Lobo. It’s a stripped down affair, recorded mostly alone in his basement, which suits the tone of this deeply personal material.

While I think End Times is good (not great) and I appreciate Everett wearing his heart on his sleeve, I struggle identifying with the theme of the album. Perhaps misery does love company and I’m just not miserable. Perhaps it’s bad timing with horrific images of Haiti’s devastation in the news every night – I mean, who wants to hear an album about a guy losing his girlfriend right now? Life could be much worse.

After all, Padma Laksmi from Top Chef was in one of his latest music videos.

Eels – Little Bird

Video: Eels – Little Bird

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ethan Stanislawski January 20, 2010 at 8:10 am

While I am skeptical of any non-miserable music critic, I appreciate anyone who has managed to avoid misery.

oddbodkins January 20, 2010 at 8:31 am

Have you seen Mr. E live? Of the two times i’ve had the pleasure, he was very angry once (though the punk version of “I Like Birds” was kick ass), very melancholy the second.

That man is a walking billboard for anti-depressants. You’d think a guy with a beard that impressive would be at least slighly more upbeat.

Shirk January 20, 2010 at 8:58 am

I’ve really been enjoying this album. I haven’t listened to Eels in quite awhile and hadn’t done any homework about any recent (or near recent work) so I had no idea what to expect. On first listen, I was a little underwhelmed. HOWEVER, as soon as “I Drew A Line In The Dirt”came on, my feelings toward the album changed immediately. This song is good. Like a lot of Everett’s material, it’s got some quirky lyrics “She locked herself in the bathroom again…so I’m pissing in the yard”, but they paint a perfect picture. Something I can totally relate to. Once that song pulled me in, the rest of the album really started to make more sense. There are some tunes on End Times that definitely rise up above the cloud of mope. “Paradise Blues”, for example.

I agree with Oz in that the timing of things is a little off…and to no fault of Eels. This album was obviously written before the disaster in Haiti. It’s hard to relate to some of these topics on End Times in context of what’s going on right now.

And Ethan, no need to be skeptical of Oz, I’ve seen him miserable. The morning after a few music festivals come to mind.

oz January 20, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Deep Dark Woods at Threadgills at SxSW is the most miserable you’ve seen me. I was borderline suicidal with that hangover.

poncho June 13, 2010 at 11:49 am

He should have released this for free. I shouldn’t have had to pay for this.

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