I’ve loved Mark Everett since he was The Man Called E. His sad, ironic break-ups are to relationship singer-songwriter folk what Bob Dylan’s anthems are to protest rock: Great because they are unflinching and raw, and honest. End Times, Eels‘ eight studio record, is all about losing a marriage while the world loses its soul. As his primary relationship ends, the artist tells of a heartless world on which “people will spit [and] give you shit just for looking at them and walking too slow.” It’s dark and bitter, but it’s also not without love and humor, as is the case with most of E’s albums.
Musically, the record isn’t as challenging as Souljacker, and thematically it isn’t as inventive as Blinking Lights, but it doesn’t have to be—it’s a simpler album, clearer and more focused. If songs like “Little Bird” and “In My Younger Days” don’t make you stop what you’re doing and just listen, you probably have no soul. And if “Things the Grandchildren Should Know” and “I Need a Mother” don’t resonate with you, you probably have no heart. Or at least no family that’s ever had problems. Maybe you’re Beaver Cleaver.
I expected to like this album, as I do all Eels records, but I didn’t expect to love it. What a great surprise. End Times is a great addition to an already impressive catalog.