"...the bleakness is beautiful"
Eels - End Times

No sooner has the full moon gone down and Mark Oliver Everett’s horny lycanthropic alter-ego disappeared, than the man also known as E returns in human form with a new full-length.

This time, though, nobody’s died - rather, the eccentric forty-six-year-old musician has focused his attentions on ageing and divorce. While they’re perhaps not as grave subjects as the death of his mother and suicide of his sister, they’ve clearly had as much emotional and creative impact as those previous tragedies.

The album begins at ‘The Beginning’, a stripped down and wistful song that sets the listener up for the heartache that follows. Its blissful imagery details a joyous, blossoming love, but one that’s now withered and died. This is the point from where the rest of the album picks up. ‘In My Younger Days’ laments the loss of his youth, ‘Little Bird’ is full of a gentle, despairing loneliness and ‘A Line In The Dirt’ is the tender flesh of a wound that, seemingly, won’t ever fully heal. Interestingly, save for ‘Paradise Blues’, the black humour that permeates even Eels’ darkest songs is generally missing from this record, as is the ever-rotating cast of band members. Instead, ‘End Times’, which was entirely self-produced by E, is the sound of one man truly alone with just his memories and sadness.

There is one brief moment of hope on closer ‘On My Feet’, but it doesn’t last long. “I pushed the bed against the window today,” he sings plaintively, “so there’d only be one side. It’s a little less lonely that way, but I’m still dying inside.” ‘End Times’ may be a tunnel with no light at the end of it, but the bleakness is beautiful.


Words by Mischa Pearlman

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