Mark Oliver Everett aka E aka Eels just released one of his best albums. That’s saying a lot from the one-man project that has put out 18 releases in the past decade. You know who Eels is even if you think you don’t. You’ve heard E‘s work in movies like Shrek, American Beauty, Knocked Up and Hot Fuzz, just to name a few. You also couldn’t escape his 1998 single, Novocaine For The Soul, and the weird video with the floating band. A band that no longer exists because E produces all the work himself and then works with a variety of musicians to perform it. This rotating staff included women dressed in black playing violins with vibrators when I saw him at the Great American Music Hall for the Eels With Strings tour.
E‘s got a very unique voice and is almost always signing about something completely heartbreaking. This record is no exception. This would be considered a collection of sad songs even when compaired to his cannon of depressing work. But that’s why I love it. I love the way he can tell these stories of break-up/divorce/loneliness and made you feel like you are going through the pain with him. I like how much it makes me appreciate how great my life is right now.
But it wasn’t always that way. Blinking Lights and Other Revelations is the album that made me a huge fan. This was a story of tragedy and rebirth. It was a 33 track double album that brought you down a rabbit hole of extreme depression and brought you out in a new world of hope. This album was released in 2006 and I was going through quite a few changes in my life and was trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel. This album spoke to me and I have been following Eels‘ work ever since.
E has lost a lot in life and it’s come out in his work. His dad died of a heart attack in ’82, his sister committed suicide in ’96, his mother succumbed to lung cancer in ’98 and his cousin was on the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11. These tragedies made his output dark and tragic for the past 10 years or so. Last year’s Hombre Lobo strayed a little from this with it’s concept of desire…End Times brings it back. But this time it’s about the tragedy of someone you love leaving you. Not dying. Just leaving. And how at times that’s almost worse.
Eels is not for everyone. Some might even find him boring. But coming from a guy who can’t get enough Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Mark Kozelek or Bil Callahan, this is the stuff you dig through the bullshit for.