Eels – Tomorrow Morning

Rating: ★★★½☆

Man, just a few months back End Times, the brilliant record from Mark E. hit stores, and hit hearts.  If you were expecting more of the same from his latest work with Eels, titled Tomorrow Morning, well, you’re going to be disappointed.  This isn’t a stripped down acoustic affair, but fans of the band will definitely recognize his songwriting process on this go round.

Honestly, you can probably skip the opening track, “Im Gratitude for This Magnificent Day.”  It’s all ambient noise, but the one thing you can take is that it sets the stage for the play that will unfold before your ears.  It sets up “I’m a Hummingbird,” which relies on string arrangements in the background to accompany E’s voice.  Sparse instrumentation makes for an interesting listen, and while it’s easy to throw the Beck similarity in there, you sill have to love those scratchy vocals.

“Baby Loves Me” uses a little bit of oddball keyboard beats to kick the song off, and yet you’ll find that that provides a lot of energy to the song.  The chorus of “my baby loves me” with its gruff approach, gives you an odd hook with which to attach yourself to the song, but proper song construction isn’t as apparent here, as is the case with much of Tomorrow Morning.  But, “Spectacular Girl” uses the same structures, just in a more subdued manner, and in this instance, its far more successful than the previous track.  Light string touches give a little bit more depth to the electronic soundscapes, and Mark’s vocal performance here is one of the stronger appearances on the level, using some variance near the end.

Personally, “What I Have to Offer” is one of the stronger songs on the record, though that has a lot to do with its sonic tie-in to End Times. It’s more of a traditional song, and you’ll definitely find that it pulls on the heartstrings a bit.  Somehow, while it often seems phoned-in, there is a strong emotive quality to Everett’s voice that makes it so alluring when you’re listening.  Just listening to a song like “This is Where it Gets Good,” which is the album’s longest track sort of demonstrates that power.  You can almost remove the musical accompaniment all together and have solid vocals that can attract an array of listeners to his music.  And lyrically, he’s at his best again, a place somewhere between heartfelt emotion and tongue-in-cheek wordplay.

Oddly, a lot of this record doesn’t have the musical attraction that I placed on End Times, yet it still draws me in the more I listen to it.  E’s voice just has this other-worldly grace that blends melody and heartache, without ever seeming overly abrasive.  Tomorrow Morning just builds and builds, and it’s full of these light moments that are drenched in personal depth, for both listener and narrator.  At this point in the Eels career, I’m struggling to find anything wrong with what he’s doing, and I’m on the verge of becoming an obsessive fan. Join me.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/13-I-Like-the-Way-This-Is-Going.mp3]

Download: Eels – I Like the Way This Is Going [MP3]

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