"End Times," Eels (Vagrant)
Everywhere Mark Oliver Everett looks, he sees something he doesn't like.
Whether it's the relationship dissolution that's at the heart of his latest album, "End Times," or the scary state of affairs in our world that he layers atop his personal pain, there's little for Everett — known as Eels or E — to be happy about.
While the emotions here are mostly difficult, E leavens the hurt with shifting textures and tempos and his trademark humor.
"A Line in the Dirt" kicks off with one of the funniest opening lines in memory — which sadly can't be reprinted here. The melancholy "In My Younger Days" is a meditation on midlife crises and he retells the breakup against type in the upbeat rocker "Gone Man."
He backs a loner's declaration and an apocalyptic vision — "The city's on fire you can smell the flesh, and the screams like dogs in the wilderness ... " — with an airy guitar strum on "The Mansions of Los Feliz" and strangely compares his ex to a "scary little suicide bomber" in "Paradise Blues."
This is Everett's second album in six months, a rapid-fire output for an artist who had a four-year break between releases before "Hombre Lobo" came out over the summer. The albums cover similar thematic ground, but that's OK. We're just glad he's back.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: Everett is at his best when he uses humor to paint a sad picture and "A Line in the Dirt" is Everett at his most clever. Backed by doleful horns and a lonely piano line, he shows us the moment where things went around the corner, and it hurts.