Eels

The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett

E Works/[PIAS] America

Apr 21, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Eels' Mark Everett has never been known for his optimism. Even in its sunniest moments, his music is always cut with an element of spiraling introversion. So with a title like The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, it's pretty clear album number 11 isn't going to be all shits and giggles.

Yet in his perennial morbidity, Everett has always resolved matters of the heart with gallows humor. But here he chooses to leave the comedic effects behind and go for some intimate soul-searching. While it may be a cathartic exercise for its creator, the result for listeners is much less pleasing.

Reflecting entirely on a misplaced relationship, The Cautionary Tales of... is a personal record that lacks few comforting cushions. "Dead Reckoning" is a granite-soul refrain that has Everett opining: "If I can't change you, I can't change anyone."  "Agatha Chang" is acoustically brittle but equally forlorn, and "Gentlemen's Choice" is a desperately depressive piano lament.

Yet melodic glimmers of positivity do exist. The gliding strings of "Mistakes of My Youth" encourage Everett to accept "it's not too late to turn around." And album swansong "Where I'm Going" is even more upbeat, harnessing gentle piano strides that coerce Everett into something resembling alacrity. Perhaps there's still hope for him yet. (www.eelstheband.com)

Author rating: 5.5/10

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