The 8th studio album from Eels, End Times, is a deeply, darkly personal outpouring of emotions following the ultimate ending of divorce. Mark Everett paints a picture of a man so consumed with heartbreak, cats insult him just by being in heat.
This is a break-up album of epic proportions: a divorce album by a man who’s suffered and documented years of unadulterated pain, it is replete with lines perfectly pitched to prick the eyes with tears, whilst delivering a sly punch straight to the heart.
The Lonely guitar melody of opener ‘The Beginning’, when “everything was beautiful and free” is ruthlessly undercut by the title of the album and the tracks that follow. End Times are coming, and we know with all the foreboding that Mr E can muster that this joy isn’t going to last.
‘My Younger Days’ maps the struggle to deal with this new heartbreak on top of the accumulation of decades. The only hope here is that the pain might end eventually, tempered by the knowledge that if it does, it won’t be for a while. Then there’s the heart-ripping frankness of the lines “I’m not yet resigned to fate, and I’m not going to be ruled by hate. But it’s strong, and it’s filling up my days.” Melancholy is Everett’s bread-and-butter, and this latest helping’s likely to make the weaker among us choke as we swallow.
End Times shows us the bare, bedraggled bones of a man who’s seen it all more than once, and has resolved to share what he feels before doing his best to move on. The fatalistic edge of this latest Eels record focuses on apocalypse as an end to pain, which seems increasingly preferable to a man who’s lost love one too many times. It’s easy to identify with a crazy, dirty doomsday prophesier when your own world feels like it’s come to an end one too many times.
For a long-standing Eels fan, this album represents a tour through the best of the band’s musical styles. The darker, grimier experimentalism of ‘Paradise Blues’ and ‘Unhinged’ have touches of Souljacker, and the purity of the sadness takes us right back to Beautiful Freak and Electro Shock Blues.
If you’re new to the Eels, this album combines a clear cross-section of their musical styles with a lethal dose of fresh, searing pain. Everett takes his listener through the full range of despair, and leaves only the conviction that life’s still worth a try – there is no certainty that better times are near.
Words: Helen True