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Album review: Eels' 'End Times'

January 18, 2010 |  7:31 pm
EELS_ENDTIME_240_ Mark Oliver Everett, the mind behind the bedraggled folk-pop entity Eels, says a curious thing on "In My Younger Days," off his new album "End Times." "I don't need any more misery to teach me what I should be," he sings at the song's bleary, swirling close.

This is the Eels' equivalent of Bruce Springsteen saying he's through with Mary and highways. Misery isn't just Everett's bread and butter as a writer -- it's his breakfast, lunch, dinner and nightcap. But don't believe him this time; "End Times" is a kind of breakup album with Everett's youth that's both shimmering yet emotionally ransacked, and an affecting entry to his long catalog.

The success of Everett's family memoir, "Things the Grandchildren Should Know," lends a documentarian's edge to bittersweet domestic lyrics like "I pushed the bed against the window today so there'd only be one side." But as always, the pianos sparkle, bluesy guitars swagger and Everett sings as if he just decided to have that one drink too many. "Mansions of Los Feliz" is a Beatles-ish ode to agoraphobia, while "I Need a Mother" is a broken-dad ballad worthy of "Nebraska."

Everett might not go looking for misery anymore, but it always has a way of finding him. Thankfully, he's still making the best of it.

-- August Brown

Eels
"End Times"
Vagrant
Two and a half stars
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