Bloodthirsty like a werewolf, desire hasn't been a topic that Mark Oliver Everett's shied away from over his fifteen years as an alternative-rock pioneer. Although his song-writing has always remained exposed and generous in honesty, never has a man sounded so out in the open as E does on this concept album on that very subject. It's difficult to fully gain awareness of the actual attitude E takes towards seducing sexy ladies, with the lyrical content varying between a desperate, lust-filled man and one so wounded that he can't continue. Nevertheless, throughout 'Hombre Lobo', he manages to take your breath away.
Strictly speaking, this is a concept album, but you need not know that. Instead you could interpret this record as a truthful collection of Eels' most naked accounts on seeking love. A proverbial pendulum switches musically and personally between the obnoxious, edgy numbers ('Tremendous Dynamite') and the beautiful, damaged ballads ('The Longing'). Each track maintains the accessibility factor that comes with Eels, but the variety feels like something new, almost on a level of the diverse nature of 'Souljacker' in 2001. It's in the words he sings that E truly excels. The most poignant moment of the aching account 'The Longing' is the revelation "I think she knows, that when I say that I would die for her, it's not just words, I really would" and on the flip-side of that, there's the dark, almost stalker-like account of the itch on 'Fresh Blood', which suddenly opens up with the declarative "I'm more alone than I've ever been, help me out of this shape I'm in". Be it a concept album, be it E's words or not, those words still get to the very core of your thinking.
But at one point it does strike you that Everett might truly be a lonely man, not some playboy with a libido. His life has always been bleakly surrounded by death and loss. It's not the first time that as a songwriter, he's become so honest with his audience, but with that thought in the back of your head, it makes 'Hombre Lobo' a unique and striking account. You might think you've heard the likes of 'My Timing Is Off' and 'All The Beautiful Things' before, each clasping to a traditional Eels formula of summertime blues, major chords and an uplifting atmosphere, but lurking inside is something not so commonplace, something momentous.