A more playful, relaxed listen than its predecessor, but a little slack of execution.
James Skinner 2010-08-23
On Eels’ ninth album, Mark ‘E’ Oliver Everett explores many of the themes that have long cropped up throughout his oeuvre, from loneliness through the idea of what it is to be happy – a loving relationship? Artistry? – to his lyrical staple of birds. Album highlight and first song proper here is entitled I’m a Hummingbird, and comes over like a loose cousin of his last record’s Little Bird, except that where Everett was formerly dejected and alone, here he casts himself the bird, “beautiful and free.” Over arcing strings he considers “all the seconds and the minutes… The years of my life,” declaring that “It was all worth it, to be here now”.
The general theme and idea of the whole thing is one of renewal, of the light that glimmered as End Times closed out, manifesting itself in something brilliant; a man finally content. But this rebirth is one communicated mainly through platitudes, of which This Is Where It Gets Good epitomises. Sitting at the heart of the record, Everett hammers home the song title, surmising that “the spirits come together,” before the funk riff the song is built out of takes centre-stage for four excruciatingly aimless minutes.
Yet Everett is on the upswing here – as he acknowledges on the sweet Spectacular Girl, “Some things just happen ‘cause they have to be”. After the bleak vision presented us on End Times (where he sang frankly of divorce against a backdrop of madness and apocalypse-mongering), it is a relief to hear him at ease with himself and the world surrounding. Straight off the bat, Tomorrow Morning is a more playful, relaxed listen than its predecessor. Indeed, Everett views this record as the conclusion of a trilogy which began with Hombre Lobo before descending into the misery present on End Times.
It’s not serenity that’s the problem on Tomorrow Morning though – it just feels slack in execution; like a series of vaguely pretty sketches or half thought-through ideas. It’s a palate-cleanser for sure, and whatever lies next for Everett, you have to hope it’s a little more emphatic than what’s on offer here.
- - -