Eels - End Times

Album cover
Indie, Rock
Vagrant Records
Eels
End Times
Eels - End Times Review rating:
3.5
User rating:
Average: 3 (2 votes)

Decades ago, the majority of artists released an album every year, maybe two. While that era is long gone, many retro musicians, attempting to invoke memories of those past masters, have successfully released a few albums in quick succession - The White Stripes come to mind immediately. And while E (Mark Oliver Everett) and his group of musicians have always bordered on prolific, it came as a surprise to many when, only a few months after 2009's Hombre Lobo was released in June, indie rock outfit Eels announced an 8th studio album.

Even more surprising, Eels decided to make a complete 180 from the direction they'd taken over their last few albums. Rather than the dirty yet smooth production and pop/rock tendencies that the band had become comfortable with, E led the band to a 4-track recorder, dug through some of his old blues records, and started writing. While many bands attempt flawless records, most of them falling short, Eels have always been comfortable with releasing highly disparate collections of songs where only a handful are worth the listen. They are not a band that writes for their audience; they are a band that writes for themselves.

End Times' first remarkable moment comes early, as "Gone Man" presents a muddy upbeat blues number that wouldn't be out of place blasting from a pick-up truck doing 60 down a dirt road. For a few tracks, however, E's muse seems to have faded slightly, until the album finally hits its stride with the piano ballad "A Line in the Dirt." Once E's tongue-in-cheek lyrics kick in ("she locked herself in the bathroom again/ so I am pissing in the yard"), longtime fans will begin to feel at home with End Times, perhaps even moreso than Hombre Lobo. The juxtaposition of the classic blues sound of "Paradise Blues" and the Dylan-esque folky harmonica of "Nowadays" is nothing new to Eels.

While End Times makes beautiful noise with the help of its older recording style and its sensuous production, it is far from perfect. The problem with the album seems to lie in the fact that it never feels like a coherent aggregate of songs; it plays more like a bipolar jam session, wandering from lethargic to sanguine with no apparent destination. Perhaps that's the result of the mere 7 months since Eels' last album, or perhaps it's simply because the band wanted to reveal their unabridged writing process. Whatever the reason, End Times doesn't succeed in standing higher than other Eels' releases, but instead adds itself to the ongoing catalog of quirky rock music.

1. The Beginning
2. Gone Man
3. In My Younger Days
4. Mansions of Los Feliz
5. A Line in the Dirt
6. End Times
7. Apple Trees
8. Paradise Blues
9. Nowadays
10. Unhinged
11. High and Lonesome
12. I Need a Mother
13. Little Bird
14. On My Feet

Eels is an American alternative/acoustic indie rock band formed by singer/songwriter Mark Oliver Everett, better known as "Mr. E" or simply E. Born in 1963, he grew up experimenting with music in the Washington D.C. suburbs and later moved to Los Angeles, California, United States emerging as the frontman of a band, calling Eels a vessel for his music. Other members rotate frequently, both in the studio and on stage. Their live shows include interesting interpretations of older songs, and usually some well-known covers.

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