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CD Review: Eels

Hombre Lobo (Vagrant)


Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E, is a fairly prolific musician. It seems like Eels releases — full-lengths, best-of compilations, live CDs — appear with such regularity that you can estimate when the next one will arrive. You can always get your fix for more Eels, whether anticipating a new record like this one or discovering treasures from the band's back catalog. Hombre Lobo (which follows 2006's Eels with Strings: Live at Town Hall, last year's best-of Meet the Eels: Essential Eels Vol. I and the b-sides collection Useless Trinkets) is the first Eels studio release since 2005's Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. It's both a logical continuation of that record and an evolution. Tracks like the static-filled "Tremendous Dynamite" and the low-key "That Look You Give That Guy" contain everything you've come to expect from the Eels: Everett's grumbling but charming vocals, subtly hooky instrumental melodies and a sense of intimacy. "What's a Fella Gotta Do" has a distinct Beatles vibe, embracing a nuanced '60s pop aesthetic, while closing track "Ordinary Man" has the introspective feel of old Tom Waits ballads. Nothing is mind-blowing, but that's not the point. Eels are like comfort food: reliable, easy to consume and better-tasting every time. — Emily Zemler

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