Review Summary: Always look on the bright side of life...
Of what I learned in my seventh grade English class years ago, I remember only one thing: every journey has a Beginning and an End, and during the time in between those two moments, the journeyman experiences fundamental, often life-changing alterations in his character. I suppose, then, that the latest trilogy of EELS albums, this being Hombre Lobo
, End Times
, and, most recently, Tomorrow Morning
, is in every way a journey. The first chapter began with frontman Mark Everett (also known as E) hopelessly in love and torn apart by loneliness and isolation, and the second with E once again torn by loneliness and isolation, but this time because said girl (which, it appears, he courted successfully) left him. Tomorrow Morning
, however, shows E as a new, changed man-one that decides to, despite being alone, look at the bright side of life and finally not be afraid of optimism.
Simply put, Tomorrow Morning
is a happy album, not as happy as the predominantly-pink album cover suggests, but, especially when viewed alongside the band’s past material, E’s newfound joy is quite apparent. Tomorrow Morning
ranges from bittersweet to ecstatic, which, when compared to pervious albums (that ranged from depressed to bitter), is quite a change. E expresses his gratitude towards the world, admits his love towards a woman, and, as always, expresses his love for birds, and this is done without an ounce of bitterness or harshness.
The now-confident E isn’t scared of experimenting with sounds and textures that he would have never even considered ten years ago. Looking Up
has a gospel choir backing his raspy voice, string arrangements make I’m A Hummingbird
even more tender, and the synths and female vocals in Mystery Of Life
kindle the song and make it infinitely more jovial. In short, Tomorrow Morning
is the band’s most adventurous album, and for this it’s all the better: all of these “experiments”, aside from the somewhat annoying shouts of “Baby love me!”
(in the song of the same name), turn out being surprisingly effective.
And yet, despite this experimentation replacing the minimalistic arrangements of the past albums, Tomorrow Morning
still sounds like an EELS album. For example, Oh So Lovely
, a tender serenade, would have fit in on any constituent of the band’s back catalog, if not lyrically then musically. In truth, every one of the album’s melodies is unmistakably an EELS melody, but with the adventurous arrangements and sanguine tone, these tunes seem genuinely refreshing and new.
Easily EELS’ best post-Blinking Lights
album, Tomorrow Morning
is the soundtrack to a man facing past struggles and difficulties, and moving past them towards new beginnings. For the first time, I’ll believe what E said ten years ago: “I think you know I'll be ok”