Release Date: Jun 2, 2009
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Blinking Lights and Other Revelations - frontman E's 2005 masterpiece about his parents' deaths and sister's suicide - was always going to be difficult to follow. E has taken the best course and changed tack, delivering a set of songs about desire through the persona of the dog-faced boy from 2001's Souljacker album, who he imagines to have grown up as a "dignified old werewolf". This provides the basis for several fruity garage romps.
Mark Oliver Everett has a habit of releasing good albums, and Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire extends the streak. Here, he's given us another collection of Eels songs overflowing with ideas, sharp hooks and biting writing. Everett has enough humor and angst for ten bands; the emotional ringer he puts his listeners through is always welcomed, and it always rings true.
The “beard rock” meme is as suspect as the pensive press kit photos in which said beards frequently appear. Meaningfulness that can be worn is often meaningless, and there are few more telling masks than a great big bushy beard. Are we to believe that so many bands, in some mass somnambulant state, stumbled into the crosshairs of a camera and then chose the resultant image as their promotional face? This is a doubling of insincerity—a corrective against trying too hard that tries way harder.
Where does Eels' appeal lie? Is it in their verbal-contortion-inducing omission of a 'the' from their name, making a discussion about the band a clumsy affair in which the speaker is constantly aware of an impending grammatical stumble? Is it the curious manner in which a plural noun winds up being synonymous with just one person? Is it musical versatility and lyrical excellence? We may be tempted to jump on the last point with a starving affirmative, but the declaration that Hombre Lobo has a stereotypical Eely sound is likely to yield knowing nods of the head. As he periodically does, E's sporting an impressive beard these days. It's an attempt to get into character, of course, and it's not the Unibomber this time.
The central metaphor of 2005's "Railroad Man" worked harder than a steam engine to convey the idea that Mark Everett (aka E, for all intents and purposes, Eels) just wasn't made for these times. I call bullshit: Considering Everett's prolific nature, restless manner with aliases, and disdain of the music industry, you'd figure the internet age would result in an outpouring of more Eels material than ever before. So how is the 40-minutes-and-change Hombre Lobo, Eels' first collection of new songs in four years? Could be that Blinking Lights and Other Revelations was something of a career ender.
SONIC YOUTH “The Eternal” (Matador). No Sonic Youth record boils down to a single imperative. Each one is hard to reduce. They’re all mixed up. They’re about songs, and they’re not; they’re about improvising, and they’re not; they’re aggressive, and they’re not. This is a band ….
Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) says a lot about the Eels career when he croons on “Prizefighter”, a fuzzy, Blues-y, guitar-based screamer and opening track of the Eels 7th album Hombre Lobo, “I’m a go-all-nighter…. I’m a don’t-do-it-wrong-do-it-righter, I’m a prizefighter” Over the years, Eels have proven to be prizefighters in the indie-rock world by doing it right on their seven studio albums, various collections, soundtracks, and live recordings over a 13-year period. E’s unique voice and his acumen for crafting quirkily moody pop songs has enabled him to hone the Eels eclectic sound into a unique hybrid style that is less a composite of multiple genres and more of an unclassifiable, singular genre unto itself.