Recently divorced and having taken a substantial break from the studio, Mr. E and his talented backing band’s latest offering End Times is a glance into the soul of a singer going through emotional turmoil. Eels could never be accused of being overly chirpy, but in End Times they dive headlong into heartfelt agony, exploring the loathing and self-doubt that comes with the end of a relationship, whilst still – somehow – managing to lay a soulful, bluesy piano sound over it all.
It’s been four years since Mr. E and Co last graced us with an album, and all the emotion of the between times has been rammed into tracks like delicate opener -The Beginning’, a sentimental return to when the singer’s love life was all simple and happy. -The Beginning’ is a depressing and fragile dive into a world of loved-up depression, and a taste of things to come, but it’s the personal touches that have End Times imagery sticking in the mind. In -A Line In The Dirt’, Mr. E opens with -she’s locked herself in the bathroom again, so I’m pissing in the yard’, while in the spoken word -Apple Trees’ he laments -I was looking at these rows and rows of trees all along the highway. I picked one tree a few rows back, just one in a billion. And that’s how I felt’.
Melancholy and slow-paced, with all the sentimentality of a Disney movie (if Mr. E’s ex-wife was to listen to this she’d probably think seriously about coming back), End Times doesn’t deny the reality of a relationship, and is all the better for it. By the time you’ve come through the album’s pointed stages of grief – anger, denial, depression and acceptance are all here in one way or another – you feel cleansed. Inundated with household sound effects, spoken word and gentile, snails-pace tracks, rarely has a break up album been so easy to relate to.