According to the group’s web site, or to the words of Mark Oliver Everett, this album attempts to hint at the idea of coming to terms with realizing that despite one’s best intentions, it’s difficult to live the life of a loner, or a lone wolfman; this is where the Spanish title comes into play. Hombre Lobo literally means wolfman, so it’s no surprise that the Eels would tackle such issues on their latest release.
Really, when you pull away the layers, the album’s lyrical content comes across pretty straightforward. You find the narrator in said songs chasing after his muse, turning to said love time and time again, despite his/her desire flee and go elsewhere. In “Ordinary Man,” our narrator willingly gives into his love, realizing that this is where he wants to be in the end, ordinary man or not. Let’s face it, it’s hard to be a lone wolf sometimes.
Musically, the album, is pretty much all over the place; it’s rather scatterbrained. It jumps from the opening barn-stomper of a tune in “Prizefighter” to “That Look You Gave That Guy.” Opening the album you have the wild man at heart, playing his soul, and banging out blues-fueled riffs for the listener. How quickly it turns, however, as “That Look..” is a much more somber affair, with the narrator begging for that same look. This is is one of the more solid tracks on the album, and an illustration of the dichotomy that is Eels records.
One thing that always jumps out during the listening process is the similarity to a Beck song. Take one listen “Lilac Breeze” and you will swear that you are listening to a brand new track by the hyperactive troubadour. Even the shifts in vocals and the usage of electronics mark it as eerily similar. It’s always been hard to escape this comparison, and with songs like this one, it surely won’t go away.
While there are some up-tempo tracks scattered here and there on the album, it is generally the slower elements that bring about the more soulful moments in Everett’s voice. Keeping in mind the subject matter, he seems so much more fragile when you listen to songs like “The Longing,” and you can almost experience the sentiment just by listening to the emotional quality of the song. Faster, guitar-laden tracks just don’t connect in the same manner, which does tend to weigh down the album in parts. If listeners could stick to the simpler songs, then this would surely be a wondrous album to spin over and over again on the record player. Unfortunately, the Eels include their diversity as usual, leading some listeners to turn a deaf ear to Hombre Lobo.
Download: Eels – My Timing is Off [MP3]