Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Eels - Hombre Lobo: Twelve Songs of Desire (LP, Cobraside)

Eels albums generally tend to be built around a thematic concept, and their new record Hombre Lobo is no different. It tells the story of a misunderstood outsider, who is the grownup version of Dog Faced Boy from 2001's Souljacker.

Longtime Eels fans will notice many similarities between the character of Hombre Lobo and E (the front man and only permanent member of the band). They’re both peculiar individuals who enjoy being a step removed from conventional society, although they still want to find their place in the wider world.

Musically, Hombre Lobo draws from the styles of several previous Eels albums. However, it’s E’s lyrics that are the true, bitter joy of this record, sacrificing nothing of their wit in pursuit of heartbreaking, heartbroken directness: "Every day I wake up and wonder why", he sings, opening "All the Beautiful Things", "I’m alone when I know I’m a lovely guy."

While many of the album’s songs are impeccably crafted, only a few of them break new ground. That makes Hombre Lobo more of a satisfying addition to the Eels catalogue, rather than a bold step forward. The album will satisfy Eels fans because of its trademark empathetic vocals and overall wistful tone, but is unlikely to win a lot of new converts.

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