Eels 

Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire

Misery has always been a source of twisted inspiration for Eels (aka Mark Oliver Everett), a multi-instrumentalist who had the misfortune of having both mother and sister pass away shortly after the release of his 1996 debut Beautiful Freak. On his seventh studio album, Everett goes the concept album route by basing these dozen cuts on the self-described notion of "desire ... dreadful intense want." Unlike the chamber-pop nuances of his 1998 opus Electro-Shock Blues, Hombre Loco is a more stripped-down affair punctuated by a trademark creaky vocal style similar to that of Beck.

Yearning wrapped in a blanket of self-pity is a driving motivator, whether Everett is moaning about how if I were that guy instead of me, I'd never let you down throughout the airy strum and jangle of "That Look You Give That Guy" or growls and yelps about his solitude over a bare-bones rhythm in the sinister "Fresh Blood." Elsewhere, disappointment over missed opportunity emits from the otherwise innocuous gently rocking pop of "My Timing Is Off," while a springy Motown cadence and clanging bells adorn the wedding proposal at the heart of "Beginner's Luck."

But while Everett's creative intentions make for a pleasurable listening experience, nothing here quite sticks to the old brainpan the way past triumphs like "Novocaine for the Soul," "Mr E's Beautiful Blues," and "Saturday Morning" do. (Vagrant)

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