Many words could be used to describe Eels‘ latest effort, End Times. The right ones, however, are most likely, “album to drive yourself straight into a semi-truck while listening.” If you’re looking for something to remind you that we are all going to get old and die, End Times hits the spot. As lead singer Mark Oliver Everett says himself, “I take small comfort in a dying world, I’m not the only one who feels this pain.” This is certainly a listen that if you’re not feeling that pain, you will afterward.
Having never known of the Everett, or band known as Eels, this album is an entirely more learned take on the emo genre. “Mansions of Los Feliz” most perfectly illustrates this point with first lyric, “Well it’s a pretty bad place outside this door/I could go out there but I don’t see what for/And I’m happy living in the dark.” This is indeed a new low point in my love of music. However, our eyeliner, skinny jean wearing friends could learn a thing or two… this is how you go about being depressed.
Now before I entirely destroy this record for being the dark, suicidal thought inducing record that it is, it should be said that musically it has many beautiful moments. “A Line in the Dirt” is a wonderful piano track with a light horn section providing a backup section that stays just the right amount in the music.
I suggest those positive enough to make it through this album without razor blades take it in doses. By the time you reach the titular track, an immense burden has surrounded the listener as the grizzly voiced Everett declares, “The world is ending and what do I care/She‘s gone/End times are here.” Even the segue track “Apple Trees” is nothing but a downer, bringing a very Fight Club-type, “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake”-feel as a man speaks of billions of apple trees and feeling like one of the billion apple trees.
“Paradise Blues” kicks it up a notch, possibly being the most musically positive song here… yes a song with “Blues” in the title is the most positive sounding track here! The guitar scoots along like a late ’60s Elvis Presley tune, and keyboards add a positive note but without becoming too cheerful. The track all-in-all is certainly the most fun this album has to offer.
A little bit of the blues may have been just what we needed to make it through “Nowadays” as we are reminded that when we “Go for a walk/Better not stop and wave or say hello/Just as soon/People will spit, give you shit /Just for looking at them.” Well, that’s one way to look at life.
It’s very hard not to put this album down as an older gentleman that has turned his back on the world for the way it’s treated him, simply because that is exactly how it seems. “I Need a Mother” speaks to a feeling of abandonment , but mostly to a feeling of needing to be taken care of by a significant other. It’s another piano heavy track which seems to perfectly counteract the scratchy, two-pack-a-day voice.
Another short vignette of a song, “Little Bird” is a beautiful track with light guitar and lyrics about a girl. We close out with what seems to be the emphasis on End Times with “On My Feet”, which refers to living life in your own way. This may sound positive, but in this case, it refers to an attitude of, “No one’s going to tell me that I’m going to be alright.”
Over the course of this 40 minute album, there is simply very little that could be seen as musically creative or original. Eels falls short in a musical scene that is becoming more and more a part of mainstream society, so much so that this album was featured on main shelves and ads in retail stores. While it does contain moments that are very introspective and elegant, they are few and far between moments that seem backwards and closed in to society while musically remaining tedious and dull. In the end, life’s too short for that.