The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett

Written by: HES on 29/12/2014 05:47:21

"The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett" is the 11th studio album of Mark Everett and company on which Everett paints the emotional narrative of the band and lyrical universe of Eels at the age of 51. The regular version, which I limit my review to, contains 13 tracks, whereas the deluxe edition adds 7 original songs and 6 live versions, so there is no doubt, that Everett has a lot to say - but the question is if it's worth listening.

Really there is nothing new under the sun on this 11th record: Everett shares all in a melancholic and stripped down soundscape best exemplified by "Gentlemen's Choice" where Everett sounds older than ever as he slowly chants "I thought I'd end up a gentleman. Accomplished, revered and admired. The life that I've led. I'm better off dead. The world has no room for my kind." on top of a sombre timbre of a piano. The mood and feel of these more quiet songs leads you to think of the likes of Tom Waits, some of them ending on a slightly positive note, but most of them a gloomy one.

There are more light-spirited songs though, if this description ever really suits an Eels song. However "Parallels", "A Swallow In The Sun" and "Where I Am From" are almost positive songs, gently lifting the spirit from severely depressed to moderately depressed. The latter song also makes use of more of an orchestra, albeit still perfectly measured to make room for Everett. He simply is the one part you have to accept or in the best case: like, for you to also like this album. And if I had to actually immerse myself in the immense body of work Everett has done in order to understand him, I wouldn't like him very much. But Everett's train seems to be one you can easily jump on and off again. Always circling the same themes in a comforting, well-composed space where it's okay to feel fragile, old or rejected. And I think there is some value to that, even though I would normally be inclined to get really sick of it very fast. See, for Everett and you to have a relationship through his music, I think it's important to know ones boundaries. His music is a place that feels very safe, but the fact that he has been stuck in it for 22 years plus, might indicate that it is also a place where you can get severely kidnapped by sorrow.

I wish that the shock of the melancholy would be more well.. shocking. I wish he would have cut at least the deluxe edition and maybe tried to work some more punch into his songs. But the fact is, there is probably no way Everett is going to start changing from being overwhelmingly sad on an overwhelming amount of songs. It just saddens me, that it's a melancholy one is inclined to grow tired of, or need to take a break from. I, at least can’t fully submerge myself into the sadness or I will get stuck there as well. However, I will from time to time put this album on and just feel sad with Everett in his beautifully orchestrated pit of sorrow.

Download: Where I’m Going, A Swallow In The Sun, Gentlemen’s Choice
For the fans of: Tom Waits, Warren Zevon, Townes Van Zandt
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.04.2014
Vagrant Records

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