Published Apr 05, 2018Eels' music has always had an element of retro-futurism to it; the dusty beats of their early work brushed up against strings and Mark Oliver Everett's knack for flipping '50s sentimentalism on its head.
The Deconstruction comes after a four-year break — a rare respite for Everett, who released five albums between 2009 and 2014 alone. Burnt out and considering retiring from music — which he nods to in the album's opening title track — Everett bounced back. But for the first time, the man they call E keeps his eyes peeled on the past — both mid-century baroque pop and his own early records, particularly the ghostly keyboard lines that back-dropped much of Beautiful Freak and Electro-Shock Blues.
In this way, it scratches any itch Eels fans might have had in the gap since 2014's The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett. Lyrically, though, it will leave those same listeners wanting. Everett has never been a terribly poetic writer, but he's always had a knack for a good turn of phrase. Here though, as he casts about for a source and solution to his malaise, he's abandoned by his usual acerbic wit. It's replaced with two more retro touchstones: self-pity and the power of positive thinking. He's indulged in both before to much greater effect.
Everett has always been loathe to stand in one place for too long so it's quite possible that we'll see yet another side of him in a matter of months. For now, The Deconstruction is a rather rote and lacklustre return. (PIAS)