23 January 2010

Eels: “End Times”

American band Eels is the brainchild of front man E, born Mark Oliver Everett. “End of Times” (19 January 2010 in the USA, accompanied by a deluxe edition with an EP) is the bands seventh studio album, best described as a serious album and not the fun party album you may expect from Eels. This time E is joined by Wayne Bergerson, Chris Bleth, and Andy Martin on horns (arranged by Jim Lang), Butch on drums, Koool G Murder on bass and guitar. E not only handles the vocals and an array of instruments (from guitar to percussion), he is also the producer of the album. The album is based on broken love, most probably inspired by E’s divorce, leading to the serious tone of the album. With a fresh sound and not so friendly lyrics the album is a great listen to when not everything is going perfectly in the world.

I have reviewed a few upbeat albums in the past and when I heard this album, it has hit me pretty hard. Not only are the lyrics melancholic but also the sorrow and tones used by E in each song gives the impression of heartbreak and wisdom. None of the songs rely on any voice enhancers and instead you are greeted with a voice that is as cool and raw as Johnny Cash himself. What you have in this album is a collection of songs that will definitely make you remember your own end times.

The first song is “In the Beginning” and it is a song that does not rely on highly poetic lyrics or even powerful instruments, instead the single guitar and almost silent drums drowned by the saddened voice of E telling a story that many may have experienced but few have narrated with such emotional power. Another great song that I am hooked on even when I’m not feeling down myself is “In My Younger Days.” It is just as saddening as the first song but with a more melodic backing and an almost talking-singing scratchy smoky bar singing voice; E really hits you right in the soul. Again not relying on poetic lyrics, I enjoyed each word and one of my favorite lines is in the end of the song, “In my younger days I would’ve just chalked it up as part of my ongoing education, but I’ve had enough, been through some stuff, and I don’t need any more misery to teach me what I should be. I just need you back.” That is an example of the simple yet powerful lyrics that have hooked me to this album.

The album is filled with track after track of melancholic gold and a sense of honesty. It is rare for me to find an album where you feel the honesty coming through the lyrics and no longer do the words sound like fabricated lyrics but like a life story. But it is not just the lyrics that give off honesty, so does the music. It does not rely on any guitar solos or energizing backing tracks; instead it drains all the energy out of you with the slow rhythms and lets you rest and take a break from the world, if only for the length of time of these songs. Its weird how an album filled with sad ballads can keep you interested through the entire album and have you repeating songs over and over again. If you have ever felt down or just need some down to earth songs that help relax and appreciate music for its simplicity and honesty, then believe you me this album will be your treasure in a sea of prefab pop songs.

Track Listing:
1. The Beginning
2. Gone Man
3. In My Younger Days
4. Mansions of Los Feliz
5. A Line in the Dirt
6. End Times
7. Apple Trees
8. Paradise Blues
9. Nowadays
10. Unhinged
11. High and Lonesome
12. I Need a Mother
13. Little Bird
14. On My Feet
15. And Now for the End Times – Deluxe EP
16. Some Friend – Deluxe EP
17. Walking Cloud – Deluxe EP
18. $200 Tattoo – Deluxe EP
19. The Man Who Didn’t Know He’d Lost His Mind – Deluxe EP

Keep up with Eels at their homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.

Here is the video for “In My Younger Days” from their YouTube Channel: OfficialEels.

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