The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
E Works / [PIAS] Australia
This is the 11th studio album from EELS since 1996 – it’s also stripped back to the simplest and most humble sound we’ve heard from them. As the name suggests, this fEELS like the most personal album to come from lead singer, songwriter and multi-talented musician, Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E.
After the long and fairly unnecessary instrumental intro of Where I’m At, Parallels sounds almost country-inspired, with E’s voice sounding more raw and huskier than ever. Lockdown is very emotional, with E’s tortured vocals again driving the momentum, along with the isolated keyboard and string backing.
Agatha Chang is a simple song of regret and heartbreak, which along with the double bass, drives a dagger in the chest. A Swallow In The Heart is a bit too emotionally-forced, and loses some of the momentum previously built. The guitar is a little too simple and it lacks the string backing of the songs prior.
Kindred Spirit doesn’t bring much to the table, while Gentlemen’s Choice trades guitar for piano. In both instances, E’s voice is again a little too forced to carry the emotional power intended.
Mistakes Of My Youth brings the pace back, forming a breezy number that’s easy listening, and Where I’m Going finishes the album off where it began, with the harsh vocals adding a nice contrast to the full orchestra backing. It’s a nice way to end.
All in all, it’s satisfying to know that one of the most consistently good acts of our generation is still churning out material of a high standard and fresh sound – but ultimately, it’s not quite up there with the best we’ve heard from EELS.