Release Date: Oct 30, 2020
Record label: Pias America
Eels' 13th album has been a lucky one. Mark 'E' Everett and his band had all the songs in the bag bar one before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and have pressed ahead to get Earth To Dora released before the end of the year. A first listen confirms that it is business as usual, for as ever with this source, the songwriting is cathartic not just for the listener but for the writer too.
Mark Oliver Everett, the man who is the benevolent despot behind the Eels, is not adverse to change, and after the cool electronic surfaces and nervous lyrical viewpoint of 2018's The Deconstruction, he decided to take things in a different direction for his 13th album, 2020's Earth to Dora. By Everett's standards, Earth to Dora sounds optimistic, or at least he seems reasonably content most of the time, which is pretty impressive given the dour, edgy tone of much of his music. While most of The Deconstruction was built from samples, loops, and electronics, Earth to Dora has a far warmer and more organic feel.
What do you do when you are launching a new album? In the case of E from Eels you post an imaginary conversation between himself and his musical hero John Lennon where they discuss everything from the TV show Friends (good) to Trump (bad, very bad!). This dialogue is yet another reminder of E's storytelling which has been reflected throughout the thirteen albums released by the band. The fourteenth is 'Earth To Dora' a delightful, mainly soothing collection of songs that is a comforting departure from previous records that have had a propensity to be pretty dark.
Over the 20+ years of their existence, EELS (led by Mark Oliver Everett, aka E) have been one of the most reliable and unclassifiable indie acts around. Relying on their quirkily moody and eclectic sound, they successfully created a hybrid indie rock style that is not only a composite of multiple genres but more of a singular genre unto itself, unabashedly crafting a throng of powerful, atmospheric, and intimate songs along the way. Unfortunately, Earth to Dora pumps the brakes on all the praise.
Nearly a quarter of a century after Eels - the brainchild of Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) featuring a revolving group of fellow musicians - became the poster band for alternative rock misfits with debut single Novocaine For The Soul, they've returned with this 13th studio album. An enigmatic eccentric who can be as humorously whimsical as he can be suicidally depressing, Everett once again weaves his way skilfully between those two extremes. Some songs here, namely Are You Fucking Your Ex - a dour, melancholy ode offset only by its that's-not-really-funny chorus - do both at once, but on the whole, it's one or the other.