Nobody is ever going to mistake Mark Oliver “E” Everett for Jason Mraz, that’s for damn sure. Sure, Everett’s Eels may make the occasional foray into upbeat, jangly rock that sounds deceptively sunny but, make no mistake, Everett’s is a discontented soul, and he is more than willing to place that soul on display.
Never more was that the case than on End Times, a bleak collection of gorgeous apocalyptic ballads. So stark, in fact, is End Times, that one is left to wonder whether Everett does indeed believe the world will indeed end in a year’s time, and is perhaps preparing himself accordingly. As Everett mourns lost loves and likes over sparkling guitars, and muses on impending doom over a pulsing rhythm section, one thing becomes clear: if Mark Oliver Everett is going out, he’s going out with a bang and a whimper.
In the Eels cannon, End Times fits along side Blinking Lights and Other Meditations as perhaps Everett’s bleakest work to date, but the album is not without a degree of hope, even if it is just implied hope. For, one must assume, if one is continually finding and losing love and contentment, then it stands to reason that which was lost will be found again, and lost again, and rediscovered, and so on and so on, etc. It is that implied hope that finds its way into Everett’s voice, as he equates a broken heart with the fleeting presence of a sparrow on “Little Bird,” and as he plumbs the depths of his own seemingly incurable despair on “I Need A Mother.” Buried somehwere beneath Everett’s sadness lies the acknowledgment that the sun will, indeed, come out tomorrow. What remains unclear is whether Everett finds that inevitable sunrise to be a brief respite from the darkness or an insistent and tormenting reminder that sunset is on its way again.