Album Review Eels - Hombre Lobo3-5 Stars
A tester to remind us all that the Eels are still shuffling members and making records, but perhaps more importantly it hints to what they are capable of being – and that’s an enticingly different beast altogether.
Revisiting the young E’s dogfaced boy, grown up fully fleshed and on the prowl of desire, ‘Hombre Lobo’ is an album with retrospective on its mind and a helluva lot of growl. The raging first single ‘Fresh Blood’ comes complete with sinister Souljacker-styled bass and vocal fuzz telling of a voyeuristic lonely man harbouring some late night lust.
The more self-assured, upbeat E is visible in the bluesy shuffle of ‘Prizefighter’ wrapped in its hollowed-out snare, his voice now comfortably deep set in the 40-a-day way. This is occasionally broken by “whoos” and his assertions of “I’m an everything’s-alright-er” which give the familiar edge of humour masking sentiment – a breeze most significantly felt on ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’.
In fact, much of the varying shades heard on ‘Daisies of the Galaxy’ are reinterpreted for ‘Hombre Lobo’, such as the daintily bouncing ‘Beginners Luck’ with Koool G Murder’s guitar leading the pack. Similarly ‘All The Beautiful Things’ sounds like the missing link between ‘Daisies…’ and ‘Blinking Lights’, in its temperate use of glockenspiel, warming horns and strings.
Much like ‘Daisies…’ in the way of pained balladry, ‘Hombre Lobo’ contains the bleakly beautiful ‘The Longing’, a rotating echo of guitars and alternating, staggering keys. Alongside this track ‘Ordinary Man’ ponders on the notion of loving someone for being themselves, an idea Everett seems to have struggled with throughout his career – an easy conclusion to reach for anyone who has read the tome ‘Things The Grandchildren Should Know’, an autobiography Everett published early in 2008 which somewhat fills in the gaps on this complex character.
Eels are partially plagiarising themselves, but there are still moments of uniqueness to find in the poppy meander of ‘The Look You Give That Guy’ – a song that sums up the feelings of want for a person you just cannot have, the sinking realisation that you aren’t right for them and there’s nothing you can do about it. The combination of E’s individual style of singing and the simple nature of the guitar playing at standard tempo, is sometimes enough to turn musical water into wine.
In some respects, there isn’t quite enough to sink your teeth into. Particularly the Stooges-styled ‘Tremendous Dynamite’ and ‘What’s A Fella Gotta Do’, for all their blood curdling vocals and speaker-shaking guitar, they just don’t quite say enough to justify their ferocity. As a gentler, less dramatic whole, ‘Hombre Lobo’ is a tester to remind us all that the Eels are still shuffling members and making records, but perhaps more importantly it hints to what they are capable of being – and that’s an enticingly different beast altogether.
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