ALBUM REVIEW: Heed Eels’ ‘Cautionary Tales’

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First Posted: 5/6/2014

Eels have been creating awesome music ever since “Beautiful Freak” was released back in 1996. A few weeks ago, they released their 11th studio album, “The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett,” which, like most of their albums, has a different sound from their previous releases. This isn’t anything new to Eels fans. Every album shows the band’s range as musicians, and the change in sound often reflects the tone and theme of that particular album. While this album is a much more somber note, it is, not unexpectedly, a beautiful album.

E (aka Mark Oliver Everett) begins the album on a down note. The first five songs are slow-tempo tracks that are absolutely wonderful. In “Lockdown Hurricane,” he metaphorically compares a bad relationship to a violent storm. Then you have “A Swallow in the Sun” – it is simply one of those tracks that tugs at the heartstrings. One cannot help but feel for the narrator of the story being expressed therein. Needless to say, E is definitely wearing his heart on his sleeve.

“Where I’m From” kicks the tempo up a bit. A more folksy sound than the previous, it still possesses the same theme as the former tracks do. That upswing doesn’t last long, though, and even though the next song “Series of Misunderstandings” brings it back down, it doesn’t bring the album to a halt.

The fact of the matter is that E has been telling a narrative since the album began. It isn’t a coincidence that the first and last tracks, respectively, are titled “Where I’m At” and “Where I’m Going.” Those ups and downs in the album aren’t there by accident. They have purpose; they carry emotional weight. After all, every story needs a rising and falling action. E’s “Cautionary Tales” does as well.

Eels ‘The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett’ Rating: W W W W W