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Eels - The Deconstruction (Album Review)

Thursday, 12 April 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

The term ‘auteur’ is derived from cinema criticism, and describes a director whose personal vision can be seen in every part of their films; from script, to music, to set design, and so on.

Over the years, the term has been used to describe Eels singer-songwriter Mark Oliver Everett, and that is probably down to two factors: the hugely distinctive musical aesthetic the Eels present, and the cinematic nature of the work itself.

A good example of this balance on his new album, ‘The Deconstruction’, is Bone Dry, a track full of boomy ‘90s hip-hop drums, moody soundtrack strings and gloriously grim, desperate lyrics: “A little laugh, a crooked smile / Don't lift a finger while I lay dying [...] Bone dry / You drank all the blood.”

It is reminiscent of Eels’ 1996 album ‘Beautiful Freak’ and, like much of their catalogue, presents Everett’s gloomy worldview in a strangely neat package.

Elsewhere, In Our Cathedral and Premonition deal with death and loneliness in profoundly affecting terms. The latter is an acoustic guitar track that combines a distant spirituality alongside a kind of lo-fi bitterness: “The world can be a real mean place when no-one’s got your back.”

Everett has been afflicted by numerous traumas over the years - Eels’ 1998 LP ‘Electro-Shock Blues’ dealt with the death of his sister and his mother’s terminal lung cancer - but he often manages to convey the hopelessness of these situations with a kind of quixotic humour, and it’s as distinctive now as it was two decades ago.

But, while Eels have not stood still, there is a tonal consistency in their work that can jar. One of the drawbacks of being a musical auteur may be that it means honing a particular way of operating throughout a whole career. As such, anything that veers out of that space struggles: Today is the Day does so here, and Epiphany is another.

‘The Deconstruction’ may not reinvent Eels, but it demonstrates an amazing commitment to a particular sound, alongside occasionally fabulous songcraft. Everett’s is a remarkably distinctive voice, and long may it continue to ring out.

Eels Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon July 02 2018 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Tue July 03 2018 - MANCHESTER Academy
Wed July 04 2018 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Fri July 06 2018 - DUBLIN Iveagh Gardens

Click here to compare & buy Eels Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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