Under Review: eels – Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs Of Desire

You know how sometimes, in the days or weeks following a concert, you either listen nonstop to the records of the band you saw, or you take a break from listening to them for a while? After seeing eels early last year, I listened to them continuously for months. I had always been a causal fan of Mark Oliver Everett‘s heart-breakingly personal songwriting, and his stylistic shifts from album to album have always been captivating, if not always rewarding. Since the release of 2005’s double-album Blinking Lights And Other Revelations, the Man Called E released a live album and DVD (which is stunning, if you’ve never heard it), a best-of collection, a B-sides collection, an autobiography and won a BAFTA award for his BBC documentary, “Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives.” Amidst his exploration of his troubled past in various media, E penned 12 songs about the varying degrees of desire, released as Hombre Lobo. Sonically, the album mixes Blinking Lights‘ pop sensibility with the overdriven scuzz of 2001’s Souljacker. Close-listening fans will recognize lead single “Fresh Blood,” with its ethereal vocal and haunting keyboard riff, as being a dark yet close relative of “Flyswatter” from Daisies Of The Galaxy. As the subtitle suggests, these songs aren’t about love, but desire. “Tremendous Dynamite” finds the titular wolf man on the prowl, and “Beginner’s Luck” sets a tale of adolescent longing to a “Town Called Malice” backbeat. E certainly hasn’t lost his knack for rocking out, with rave-ups like “Lilac Breeze” and “What’s A Fella Gotta Do?” rivaling some of his best-loved rockers. Of course, it wouldn’t be an eels album without a few well-placed ballads, and “All The Beautiful Things” and the closing track, “Ordinary Man” fill that quota nicely. He’s come a long way from the sample-based grooves of his debut, but E has never lost the unmistakable voice (both musically and lyrically) that has defined each of his ventures.

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~ by E. on June 2, 2009.

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