Eels

End Times

Vagrant

Feb 11, 2010 Issue #29 - Year End 2009 - Best of the Decade Bookmark and Share


"I'll lock the world away/Haunted by my better days," Mark Oliver Everett, aka E, wheezes dejectedly on "Nowadays," exhibiting the dignified sense of resignation that colors End Times, the second Eels album in less than 10 months, and light years away emotionally from his most recent, Hombre Lobo. Lobo found E assuming the fictional werewolf character "Dog Faced Boy," waxing rapturously of unrequited love and desire. Here, he seems enmeshed in memory, consumed with the inevitable deterioration of relationships across time and distance, while still fitfully yearning for redemption.

There's an R.E.M.-ish quality to the gorgeous gossamer ballad "Younger Days," as E entreats, "I don't need any more misery to teach me what I should be/I just need you back." Yet, despite the high gravitas abundant throughout, there's levity to be found. On the "Lust For Life"-style hootenanny of "Gone Man," E barks with fuck-all flippancy, "I take comfort in this dying world."

Phantasmagoric images of suicide bombers ("Paradise Blues"), fecund trees on country roads ("Apple Trees"), and fever dreamscapes ("Mansions of Lost Feliz") abound, unfurling like the flashback sequences in Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road. This record is nothing if not an apocalyptic reverie on a moribund road, as haunted by the specter of holocaust as Neil Young's classic nuclear daydream treatise On the Beach.

Closer "On My Fee," finds E crooning, "I'm running scared/But one day I'll be back on my feet/I'll be all right," illustrating the overarching conceit of this record, one of sublimating fear into something singularly beautiful. This may not be Eels' best record, but it's damn close to it, and a uniquely idiosyncratic deposit in an increasingly diverse discography that's getting harder and harder to ignore. (www.eelstheband.com)

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