Alternately dark and foreboding and giddily hopeful (not to mention, jam-packed with those minor chord progressions and choked distortion blues that eels fans have come to expect and revere) this seventh studio album expands Mark Oliver Everett’s one-of-a-kind songwriting style while nicely building upon the sounds and subjects of the band’s previous releases. The album sports the fitting subtitle, “12 songs of desire,” and Everett pries equally into the joys of desire fulfilled and the pains of unrequited lust.
Hombre Lobo proves to be a stirring, bi-polar love affair. The breezy, slender clean-tone electric guitar lullabies of “Ordinary Man” and “In My Dreams” drift easily into the jagged strip-club stomp of “Tremendous Dynamite” where whitewash guitars slap against a tinny drumbeat as Everett pines for an unreachable beauty. Women are constantly coming and going, enticing and rejecting and each track feels like a contained personality, as if the album chronicled twelve steamy, sexy relationships in a big picture point of view. “Lilac Breeze” and the bombastic “What’s A Fella Gotta Do” are jangly, playful anthems of summertime lust. While “All the Beautiful Things” is a timid folksong replete with pinging toy guitars and wobbly strings. Everett’s joyful rhyming schemes eventually swallow themselves up into a straightforward question: “Why can’t I just get with you?” “Fresh Blood” combines werewolf howls and tremolo synths to yield a funky soundtrack for a late-night black & white horror film fever dream. The song’s chopped snares and melting bassline eventually extinguish themselves with a pleasant, reckless abandon.
The ska-inflected “Beginner’s Luck” with its wedding bell chimes and bouncy percussion leads into one of eels’ most hopeful choruses yet, as Everett beams, “The road in front of us is long and it is wide / We’ve got beginner’s luck, we’ve got it on our side.” The ups and downs of love is nothing new for Everett and his eels cohorts, but rarely does an album so accurately depict those wildly swinging mood shifts of desire and its fallout.
Favorite Track: “Beginner’s Luck”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.