Eels’ Mark Oliver Everett—a.k.a E—has always had a dark rain cloud hovering over his head like Eeyore, but this time he’s outdone himself with the break-out-the-Kleenex lyrical content.
Following up last year’s concept album, Hombre Lobo, and EP, Transmissions Session 2009, Everett rather prolifically releases another full-length album, suitably titled End Times. (“I felt guilty about the long gap between the last two albums,” he says, “so I’m making up for lost time.”)
End Times might be his darkest work to date, full of sad acoustic guitars and woe-is-me lyrical content that finds him missing his girl, questioning the meaning of life, longing for a mother, damning jaded people and hypothesizing about the end of the world. In one beautifully morose lyric, Everett sings of being “haunted by my better days.”
While Hombre Lobo was written from the point of view of a fictional character, End Times is all Everett. Of course, like most artists, some of Everett’s best work has resulted from tragedy, like the death of his mother and sister, and on End Times it’s the loss of love.
Everett says the “end times” are the “state of the desperate times we live in” and refers to the album as a “divorce album,” though he hasn’t really elaborated on his situation much beyond that, outside of his songs. On “Little Bird” Everett sings: “So tell me this can’t be how it’s gonna end/Tell me my heart somehow dear god it’s gonna mend.”
Aside from the telling lyrics and moody instrumentation, the album features the sounds of pouring rain, a phone dialing and a busy signal. Recorded primarily on an old four-track tape machine in Everett’s Los Angeles basement, the album is raw lo-fi heartache at its best.