Review Summary: If 2009 is to be a year of woe, you can half-count E out.
It’s been four years, but Mark ‘E’ Everett is off-the-bat obvious – “I’ve been through a lot/and you can’t scare me
- in a less obvious way. Since his sophomore release, Electro-Shock Blues
, most fans have been under the impression E was retelling the longest autobiography ever made. It reached insane, melodramatic heights the last time we saw him – which was four years ago – but so long since it all began, and with a thirty-three song blockbuster about his life in painful endurance put to rest, E has a new mind. I still don’t know whether I want it to stay.
Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire
seems to weigh in on two accounts – there are parts of this new personality you are certainly not supposed to like, anyway. His mind is littered with sleaze at these points, with his most rockin’ song ever “Tremendous Dynamite” boasting a guitar rage so sly it screams restraining orders. On “Lilac Breeze” he is just as much a stalker, writing the most psychotic and musically inept moment in his entire career.
So, he presents a man undecided; at points, he’s acting out a new role as the pervert, the creep, etc. Essentially, it’s harder to believe (or listen to) moments such as “Lilac Breeze” because he doesn’t seem to have experienced this weirdness as much as he has his other, authentic world – when sanity is back, it’s just incredible. “The Longing” doesn’t need to sound like his back catalogue to be as ever daunting – it’s longing, heartfelt (all with just one melody), but still loud and trapped in Hombre Lobo
’s sinister microcosm. And it’s the very same treatment given to “The Look You Give That Guy”, where all E needs is to be pensive and awkward, as opposed to dangerous.
That said, E hasn’t been this gritty since Beautiful Freak
, an aggressive pantomime of that lovely home-town Echo Park. With that in mind, a forgotten E prowls streets for the seventh record. “Fresh Blood” is a perfectly convicted example, dark beats and bass constructing the album’s late night intention. Here he pleas Sweet baby, I need fresh blood
– in itself, a new side of Eels’ brainchild – and yet, it isn’t enough. When the catchiest moment of Hombre Lobo
is E’s shattered werewolf howl, it’s as if he really has accomplished the tainted bliss he wanted.
Balance may never have been his forte, as much as the instrumentation on Blinking Lights and other Revelations
feigned, but E’s self-imposed ‘concept album’ turns into the perfect challenge. Desire – the album’s theme - is given the go-ahead to flow loosely, and rightly so: by setting a task, E actually works his brain into every little aspect of it, as opposed to that sombre sound you’ve heard so many times before. E seems to play out two album finales. Raw, relaxed guitar strums make merry on “Beginner’s Luck” and instil a needed sunshine walkabout into the album. Following on are cold and echoed riffs, giving the night back to Hombre Lobo
in “Ordinary Man”, which checks out E’s one night stand with perversion neither one way or the other: twelve tracks of filthy thoughts, and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Stream at http://www.myspace.com/eels