Mark Everett is back at it. His Eels have been quite busy in the last few years, recording a record in each of the last three years if you include the soundtrack to Yes Man, which was comprised mostly of songs by Everett. For those familiar with Eels music, this latest release, End Times, won’t provide anything new to the puzzle in terms of style or feel, though it may be the darkest release yet.
You can almost imagine the character on the album’s cover as the character in the songs, often singing like one on his death bed might. If you can get past the depressing tone of many of the tracks, you can begin to appreciate the craftsmanship of one of today’s great songwriters. Like Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, perhaps, Everett is at his best when the music is stripped down to the basics, and his haunting voice takes over.
Try as you might though to ignore the mood, his minimalist approach to musical accompaniment, which he has perhaps taken as far on this release as any before it, can make it tough to focus on much but the words—something that I’m sure is by design.