Album: Hombre Lobo
Label: E Works/Vagrant
Eels' Hombre Lobo was an intrepid concept album, full of jolting ambition, and a coherent, central plot point. Its main theme of desire was followed to the letter, as the man behind Eels, E, spilled his thoughts on wanting and lust, while balancing the imagery of the werewolf motif-- something that may or may not be reflected in the stark contrast in arrangements from track to track. Regardless, the release's alternation is one of its biggest asset, keeping you interested, as you never know what's coming next.
From the jagged, woodsy opener "Prizefighter" to the timid, reserved nature of its successor, "That Look You Give That Guy" and beyond, Hombre Lobo continually changes gears, yet never fails to manage a fluid transition. In comparison to previous Eels works, the album is less gusto, and more raw emotion. Whether sounding loud and jovial, or downtrodden and alone, E presents his point of view with a sweeping sincerity. It's charming in the sense that it never reaches, but rather, just presses the boundaries of what the band can attain. Apparently, from the evidence presented on this record, I'd say those boundaries have begun to disappear completely.
Best Track: "Beginner's Luck"
[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #20, The Cave Singers' Welcome Joy]