Friday, February 19, 2010

Album Review - Eels - End Times

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information before or after if needed but will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
End Times 
* and a 1/2 out of *****

Eels or rather Mark Oliver Everett, has been through a ton of hardships in his life and they consistently weigh him and his music down.  That weariness coupled with the straining honesty in his voice lends added gravity to all of his songs.  However, on past efforts an ironic, smiling-into-the-shitstorm flicker has off balanced the grim thoughts, not on End Times.  There is no irony in this title; Eels are speaking on the end of relationships, the end of life, the end of civilizations and the end of the world, yet at the end of it's run it is the album that has  failed.

Much sparser sonically then the recent (and superior) Hombre Lobo, E just wallows in the rut of despair waiting for these End Times which seem to be coming in the next gasp.  “Unhinged” has an organ and tambourine that off set some mean lyrics directed at a crazy ex-lover, “In My Younger Days” plays with simple electronic backing over suicidal thoughts.  The emptiness is all consuming and serves to drown the listener while E regresses into himself and the songs almost border on pitying. 

Let’s face it, Eels can convey pain brilliantly and the short heartfelt “Little Bird” sounds completely forlorn and devastating with the refrain “God Damn/I Miss that girl” but in context it is just another bleak song.  A full album of downers is tough to swallow unless recent breakups or hardships have clouded your life, if that's the case then I am sure this album will ring completely true. When Eels splashes in a bit of variety into the overall product he/they achieve better results, hopefully E cheers up just a hair for the next album.   

More thoughts, comparisons to other reviews and a video after the jumparooni

I got hooked on Eels a few years ago and I will check out anything E does, I am a fan, which makes that review up there hurt a little.  His voice just sucks me in, I believe what he says, plain and simple, it effects me because I feel he has been affected...I always mix those two usages up, but hopefully you pick up what I am putting down.

This album just didn't work for me at all.

I seem to be on the other side of this one then most people, NY Times labeled it a critics choice, Spin and even Glide enjoyed it.  After reading those, I think we are all basically saying the same thing, they just think it works where I don't think it does.  This album comes straight from his divorce and you can tell instantly; it is blunt and a touch boring IMO.  I have been very fortunate in my life, but if I was going through tougher times maybe this would hit home, but as it is, End Times feels dangerously close to a shut in's cry-me-a-river-album, which I never would have expected from him. 

I should point out that The Onion AV Club and surprisingly Pitchfork both agree with me (Pitchfork is shockingly close...scary hipster thought...).  I think the major issue may come down to the last song....his last song on Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, "Things The Grandchildren Should Know" really knocked me down and tied a huge sprawling album together for me, so much so that I put it at #29 on the best 50 of the last decade.  I gave End Times which I instantly disliked a chance, and when the end fell flat I was disappointed.

Oh is my favorite song from the disk:

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