Mr E turns lupine, gets primal and cranks the dial to distort.
Keira Burgess 2009
Mark Oliver Everett is not a man afraid to draw inspiration from the least profound of places, it seems. Sporting a considerable beard for the first time since his Souljacker album, E seized upon revisiting his alter ego Dog Faced Boy having clocked his hirsute reflection in the bathroom mirror. The result is Hombre Lobo, Eels first studio album in five years and based around the themes introduced by the Souljacker track back in 2001.
Aptly, the album named werewolf opens with a howl fitting for a full moon, and presents something altogether darker and more tantalising than the last Eels project Blinking Lights And Other Revelations.
Where the latter was nocturnal magic and sparkle, this is night-time temptation laced with menace. A selection of the material is pure bluesy rock, including Tremendous Dynamite, a thrusting tale of some captivating, hipshaking 60s harpy.
The decade is also revisited in the pop strains of What’s A Fella Got To Do, and the tremulous guitar of single release My Timing Is Off: both Kinks-school tunes with the tell-tale modern embellishment of crackly, effect laden vocal.
Fresh Blood, the single’s other A-side is almost kitsch in its ghostly, synth homage to horror movie clichés, but works brilliantly as both a standalone effort and in the context of the album.
It’s the prominent production that gels the material together: only All The Beautiful Things jars, with crystal clear strings and banjo, and a vocal untouched by the crackling that dominates elsewhere.
Lilac Breeze and Beginner’s Luck provide the fun; cheer-along, feelgood and so short listening on repeat doesn’t seem an indulgence.
How long the beard will last is anyone’s guess, but should it end up shorn on a whim, at least it left a lingering trace on the face of modern rock.