Eels need no introduction, with frontman Mark Oliver Everett aka “E,” inserting his name into the very title of their latest release, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett. L.A. indie veterans Eels have an extensive catalog spanning two labels: Dreamworks and Vagrant. Their music is the epitome of the aged and refined pop you’d find in an an early episode of Scrubs. Hell, did you know Eels was mentioned in the very last few seconds of the last episode of Scrubs? Did you, Dad? Anyway, Tales is basically Everett’s Rockin’ the Suburbs. It’s sad and sounds like stuff your parents listened to.
“Where I’m At” is like the opening to some anachronistic Wes Anderson flick. Piano, dramatic horns and some
flute fill your head with polyester, wool caps and track suits. We now know where Everett is at, and that’s
possibly the point of contention.
Songs like “Agatha Chang” and “Where I’m From” are so dangerously Simon and Garfunkel it’s almost odd
hearing them with only Everett’s voice on the record and no harmonies. The acoustic guitar and twinkly bells
would feel right at home next to a song like “Cecilia.”
“Kindred Spirit” opens like a Nico track (an obvious one at that), making the previous Wes Anderson reference
even more legit. Now, while Gwyneth Paltrow is exiting that bus in slow motion, Everett sings, “She’s got a
real big heart, and I’ve gotta win it back.” There’s a special kind of feeling when listening to cutely
plucked guitar and gently sung lyrics: soul-crushing depression. Just ask Ben Gibbard, Justin Vernon and Conor Oberst.
Everett’s raspy, almost Louis Armstrong-esque voice can make anyone break down in whiskey tears. He just decided to work on an album that is equally as depressing as his melodies. It’s a good kind of depressing, though; it’s the
refreshing kind. The dramatic use of theatrical instrumentation in The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver
Everett makes you want to spend the day alone, learning about yourself. Share this album, but don’t you dare
listen to it with anyone else. No one wants to see how dark it can get in your bedroom. You’ll eventually
emerge a brand new person, ready to take on the world one step at a time.