Under Review: eels – Tomorrow Morning

There was a time, and it wasn’t so long ago, that releases from eels were sporadic, at best.  Of course, those eventual releases were loaded (often too much so) with material, making each long wait equally rewarding and unbearable.  Last year, Mark Oliver Everett released Hombre Lobo, an overdriven collection of some pretty well-written songs.  Where that album focused on sonics over substance (admittedly, most of the lyrics were howls), E’s next effort, End Times, stripped away most of the instrumentation.  Unfortunately, too much of sentimental E can be rather emotionally taxing, and the release of another album so soon suggested a rushed and uninspired songwriting process.  Perhaps the last thing we should have expected for 2010 was yet another eels release, but what’s even more surprising is that Tomorrow Morning is a pretty good album.  Recalling the polished pop of Daisies Of The Galaxy and Blinking Lights And Other Revelations, E’s ninth studio album stands to be the best of his recent trilogy.  Like Blinking Lights, Tomorrow Morning features a number of delicate interludes, beginning with “In Gratitude For This Magnificent Day” and later “After The Earthquake.”  As far as the songs go, mixed in with the requisite tender ballads are some long-missed ventures into the classic eels groove.  “The Man” is a self-referential jaunt and “Spectacular Girl” is another in a long line of E’s upbeat odes to downbeat lovers.

There are a few experimental flourishes that keep Tomorrow Morning from being an ordinary return to form, namely the gospel rave “Looking Up” and the instrumental second half of “This Is Where It Gets Good.”  Don’t think that E hasn’t cranked out some filler for this album, because he has.  To be fair, though, even the weaker tracks on Tomorrow Morning are better than End Times’ highlights, and tunes like “The Morning” and “What I Have To Offer” are inoffensive, autopilot E.  Tomorrow Morning works best as a whole, with the first proper song, “I’m A Hummingbird” and the closing “Mystery Of Life” providing strong foundations at each end of the disc.  Hopefully, E will take some time off (most likely to tour in support of his three albums), because his inner muse could use the rest.  Tomorrow Morning is a satisfying cap to a mostly great triptych of records.  Putting out three albums in two years is an ambitious task, but in this case it’s somewhat ruptured eels’ inherent sense of mystery and unpredictability.  I’m not sure if I would’ve enjoyed these albums any more if years instead of months separated their release dates, but Tomorrow Morning is the real keeper from this sudden expansion of E’s songbook.

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~ by E. on August 25, 2010.

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