Mark Everett, aka E, doesn't do sunny. The songwriter has proven himself capable of writing some of the most delightfully dour, horribly honest songs, most recently laying his tunes bare in last set "End Times" (January 2010) and the consumptive urgency from "Hombre Lobo" (2008).
That's why I find it impossible to partake in the manic, un-E musicquake that is "Looking Up" without tasting that grain of salt. It's structured as a gospel tune, with tambourine and a choir (of himself), but with E singing in what sounds like a microphone from one of those Fisher Price cassette tape players. Lyrically, it has bits of earnestness, but mostly it all comes off pretty silly. "Used to be kind of bitter / Always had a babysitter / But I'm feeling much fitter / Now I'm pretty sweet / Back on my feet / Walkin' down the street."
The conflict of its simplicity and the knowledge of his abilities to finesse a deep (emotional) funk leads me to one question for Everett: Are you being sarcastic?
According to a release on his site, I don't think he means to be. "Looking Up" is the first song culled from "Tomorrow Morning," the third album in a trilogy; those prior two albums followed the concepts of "before" and "after," respectively, of some personal hard times, while "Tomorrow Morning" is, fittingly, "another chance."
Thus the total sea change in sound, Beck reference intended. The album utilizes "electronic keyboards, drum machines, tape loops and found sounds" to react in a "warm album that was a celebration using electronic instruments to reflect joy in the times I live in."
"After what seems like an incredibly dark time, the hope that tomorrow is coming gives us all another chance. As long as there's a morning tomorrow, anything is possible."
How sonically unexpected.
"Looking Up" streams below, and fans can download the track for the price of
your mom your email through the Eels' website. "Tomorrow Morning" drops Aug. 23.