With his seventh LP under the Eels name, the first since the excellent double album Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, Mark Oliver Everett (better known simply as E) has grown a beard even surpassing that of the Souljacker era. The look is fitting, as the album is titled Hombre Lobo, Spanish for werewolf. It has been four years since the last LP, but E has kept busy with autobiographies, documentaries, and a pair of compilations collecting the best of the Eels so far.
While Blinking Lights was characterized by musings of God and love, compiled over many years with the revolving door of Eels members, Hombre Lobo is instead subtitled 12 songs of desire. Punctuated with the howls of both E and his trusty canine companion, Bobby Jr., the album imagines an aged “Dog-Faced Boy” from Souljacker as the main character. While writing from a character’s point of view, it’s hard not to believe that E hasn’t slipped some autobiographical details in, as he often does.
Much like the dual-life experienced by lycanthropes, the album is of two identities. Half is filled with fuzzed out rockers like opening track ‘Prizefighter’ and first single ‘Fresh Blood’, while other songs like ‘That Look You Give That Guy’ and ‘The Longing’ are softer and more sentimental in nature. Apart from some strings on “All the Beautiful Things,” the album forgoes the use of Mr. E’s magical bag of instruments, with the majority being performed by the current three-piece Eels incarnation of E, bassist Koool G Murder and drummer Knuckles. As a whole, it’s not one of their best, but there are a few gems present like ‘Beginner’s Luck’, and any excuse to get the band back on tour is a welcome one. Having missed the Eels Orchestra, Eels with Strings, and No Strings Attached tours, I’d rather not miss the chance to see them again.
The bottom line is at this point you either like Eels or you don’t. Much like how Jason Lytle’s solo debut Yours Truly, the Commuter still sounds exactly like Grandaddy, this is still vintage Eels. Keep your silver bullets at bay, ladies and gentlemen.