Artist: EELS Video: "Peach Blossom" Highlight: "It's kind of the perfect…
- Posted on Aug 25th 2010 1:30PM by Benjy Eisen
And then, another seven months later -- in August 2010 -- E revealed that both albums were actually part of a trilogy. The final installment, 'Tomorrow Morning,' was just released. Here we present our in-depth exploration of the three albums.
When Eels released 'Hombre Lobo,' nobody imagined it to be the opening notes of a trilogy, let alone the first of three albums the band would release within an 18-month spread. All anybody really knew at the time was that it was the first album of new Eels material in four years and it was way different than anything they had ever released before.
E says that 'Hombre Lobo' is about "the beginning" -- about starting off with a clean slate and a head full of hopes, dreams and desires. In fact, he subtitled the album '12 Songs of Desire,' and indeed it is. But, in hindsight, it's just as much an album about desperation. After all, all desire has a desperate side: There's a certain desperation to new beginnings, when nothing is happening but everything is possible.
The narrator is hungry, thirsty and full of longing. "Every day I wake up and wonder why/I'm alone when I know I'm a lovely guy" -- E sings on 'All the Beautiful Things.' Throughout the album, he appears to argue for his worthiness like this while attempting to demonstrate that he (the narrator) deserves the objects of his desire. The album even starts off with a song called 'Prizefighter,' in which E confidently declares, "I'll win your heart." He really goes for it, amid distorted guitars and reverb-drenched howls -- from that moment on, he may not necessarily win the girl's heart (at least, not yet), but he certainly wins ours.
In the end, 'Hombre Lobo' isn't just about the beginning; it's more accurately about the fuel that drives beginnings into existence -- aka the pretext.
As the title makes perfectly clear, 'End Times' represents some kind of conclusion. The end of a relationship, sure, but at moments it seems as though E may be hinting about the end of the narrator's life itself. Of course, we know now that this album is just the second part of a trilogy -- so, by strict definition, it's the middle, not the end. As if to blur lines even more, 'End Times' opens with a tune called 'The Beginning.' Next, consider that the song 'End Times' is actually placed firmly in the middle of the disc. That's probably not unintentional. Nor is it unfitting that -- despite all the gloom and doom and other hullabaloo over a failed relationship -- the album's final track, 'On My Feet,' ends by acknowledging the future: "One sweet day I'll be back on my feet again/And I'll be all right." Like the serpent eating its tail, or the phoenix going up in flames, the end is just another beginning. Which means, in this maze of mirrors, 'End Times' actually is the middle, after all.
Like dream levels in the film 'Inception,' this "beginning versus end" thing can go as deep as you're willing to go with it. The first track, aptly called 'The Beginning,' is written from somewhere after the ending -- of a relationship -- as the narrator wistfully looks back on brighter days. But it's not as if 'Hombre Lobo' was about those brighter days: Remember, that album was about looking forward to a brighter future that hadn't quite arrived yet. 'End Times' falls on the other side of it, where the narrator looks back on those same events. It's interesting that both albums contain the same sense of longing; the first one just has boyish fantasies attached, whereas 'End Times' is a bit more weathered and resigned. It's a place to stop and gather thoughts. It's not surprising, then, that 'End Times' forgoes the rousing rock of 'Hombre Lobo' for a more solitary, somber approach. It's a beautiful album for beautiful losers.
If albums sometimes form the soundtrack of our lives, 'Tomorrow Morning' is the sound that would escape from a large, heartfelt sigh of relief after the commercial break. The final installment of a trilogy, it's the "Whew!" after a "Hey!" that was followed by a "Whoops!" Or, as band leader E tells Spinner, it's an album "about redemption." Yes, you've loved. Yes, you've lost. Yes, you'll find love again.
By his own admission, E mimicked the lyrical themes of the first two parts of the trilogy with music befitting their respective content -- a loud ruckus for the animalistic desire of 'Hombre Lobo' and a somber, acoustic environment for the lonesomeness of 'End Times.' However, on 'Tomorrow Morning,' E presents us with a slight dichotomy instead. He laces outwardly optimistic and hopeful lyrics with electronic experimentation; this is uncharted territory, both for the narrator and the listener. A persistent drum machine reminds us that E has employed electronic "virtual instruments," which bounce off of his most accidentally vulnerable lyrics yet.
The reason they're so vulnerable? Whereas on 'End Times,' E sounds close to broken -- and, as humans who can relate, we forgive him for it -- here he offers the unapologetic declarations of a man in the throes of a love affair. Song such as 'Baby Loves Me' and 'Spectacular Girl' are filled with the kind of lyrics you'd probably expect from such titles. We hate to be harbingers of bad news, but remember one album back, after E had his heart broken, how he remembered that it was all so great once, in 'The Beginning'? Well, we're at the beginning again. And it is great.
Talking of beginnings, on 'Hombre Lobo' -- the beginning of this particular trilogy -- E sings, "The look that you give that guy/I wanna see looking right at me/If I could be that guy instead of me." Some 18 months later, on 'Tomorrow Morning' ... he's become that guy. Or, as he himself puts it on the 10th track, "Look in the mirror/I am the man!" If 'End Times' wasn't actually about the end so much as the middle, 'Tomorrow Morning' isn't actually about tomorrow, after all -- it's about joy in the present tense. As far as Eels albums go, that's a first.