Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It took Mark Everett seven years to record 2005’s Blinking Lights And Other Revelations, so it’s understandable that the man might be drained. Throw in last year’s sobering memoir (Things The Grandchildren Should Know), his documentary about his quantum-physicist father (Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives), and a greatest-hits compilation and rarities album, and it’s no wonder that the new Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs Of Desire sounds so tired. Sure, a back-to-basics vibe permeates the album, but it sounds more by-the-numbers than refreshed. Life’s unjust randomness and unrequited desire have always been major motifs in Eels’ music, so sighing songs like the you’re-gonna-love-me-once-you-know-who-I-am ruminations of the reflective “That Look You Give That Guy” and the pensive “In My Dreams” seem more like songwriting exercises than an attempt to make naked melodies more nuanced, or lyrics more vulnerable. Everett may be weary, but he doesn’t sound bored: Hombre Lobo comes alive when it changes gears into its lean bluesy rock songs: “Tremendous Dynamite,” the album’s midway point, offers the first wake-up call with a towering riff that bobs and weaves like a heavyweight, while smashing cymbals offset the horny lyrics. Hombre works best when it fully embraces its titular beast: “Fresh Blood” finds excitement in a brooding groove, and rattles when Everett literally howls. Unfortunately, those are exceptions: The rest of the album just isn’t cohesive enough to entice much repeated listening.


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