“If I could be that guy instead of me, I’d never let you down,” sings Mark Everett on “That Look You Give That Guy,” a standout track on the Eels’ new album, Hombre Lobo. Everett’s songwriting is neither revolutionary nor tacky—it’s simply revealing, and his straining vocals deliver a comforting truth: whether he’s dreaming or prizefighting, Everett is always game for a nice battle. The opening track, “Prizefighter,” packs a nice punch of hostility while Everett screams, ostensibly letting us know that he’s either unanimously won or gone down swinging in discord.
Hombre Lobo songs shake with a weird sort of tension. “Lilac Breeze,” with its unyielding craziness, should eventually become an anthem for a future Quinten Tarantino film, while “The Longing” finds Everett searching for “her smile, her touch, her smell, her laugh, her tears, her sorrow, her faults, her doubts.” And that’s the thing about Everett—he’s tasted every flavor, tried every approach until he’s howling with delight. There’s not much here to dislike.