“It just feels like, to boil it all down, we should all strive to be a little more like Mr. Rogers and a little less Donald Trump. Look at those two polar opposite approaches to life: To be open and generous versus calling everybody a loser.”
E lets out a laugh.
E is not wrong.
The mastermind behind Eels, known on stage simply as E and born Mark Oliver Everett, is known for his unadorned lyrics relating the bleak and beautiful bits of life. For more than 20 years, he’s been crafting sweet and sorrowful songs such as “Your Lucky Day In Hell,” “Trouble With Dreams,” and “Lockdown Hurricane.” But even after a four-year break, there’s no rust to shake off as Eels get set to play Boston’s House of Blues on Friday (June 8), the latest stop on their world tour.
You’d think the same guy who has already written a memoir chockablock with effortless wisdom (2008’s Things The Grandchildren Should Know) would have lost steam. And while April’s The Deconstruction, the first new Eels album in four years, is as solid as any other Eels album, it feels especially powerful given the current state of things.
The right album for the wrong time.
“Life is complicated,” Everett muses when speaking with Vanyaland. “It would be nice if it was simple and easy for us all to be Mr. Rogers. But there’s complications. It’s good to try.”
The album’s structure lends itself to an overall narrative without beating the concepts over one’s head. At the center of it all is the lead single, the anthemic “Today Is The Day.”
As E explains: “Approaching the halfway mark the guy is thinking about some golden age of his life and thinking ‘is there a way to recreate this?’ And he realizes that it’s impossible to go back. But what he can do is seize the day and do his best with today.”
Self-care made its way onto the record with a happy accident with the gentle empathy of ‘Be Hurt.’
“I have a drawer full of scraps of paper that I take out of my pocket on an almost daily basis with little ideas for lyrics and song titles. And then I have another drawer. It’s like my ‘self-help’ scraps of paper, with little notes to myself. And that idea was originally just a note to self, like that ‘it’s ok to be hurt.’ It’s comforting to me to think that way… that it’s not the end of the world, even though it feels like it at the time. And I think I just mixed up the drawers and picked this scrap of paper out of the wrong drawer when I was intending to write a song [laughs]. And it occurred to me that that could be a song!”
You could simply check out Eels on the new record. Or even take a gander at E’s acting chops in his several movie/tv appearances as of late (most notably Netflix’s Love and Judd Apatow’s This is 40).