The Eels’ seventh studio album, “Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs Of Desire” is a crazy collection of songs, at best. But given that the idea behind the album is supposed to be lust and desire, the erratic sound can be excused under the guise of sticking to the concept of crazy, uncontrollable needs.

The problem with listening to this record at any level of volume is that on tracks like the opener, “Prizefighter,” songs like “Tremendous Dynamite,” and the first single, “Fresh Blood,” the band has created such a fuzzy combination of guitar and vocals that frontman Mark "E" Everett makes your speakers crackle and your ears bleed. Everett’s howling is said to be a fitting translation since “hombre lobo” means werewolf in Spanish. We’ll never know what the songs would have been like without these effects, but they’re certainly not a pleasure to listen to with them.

There are however some classic Eels tracks here too. “Lilac Breeze” is catchy and single-worthy, and “Beginner’s Luck” has a bouncy Britpop vibe. “My Timing Is Off” is also reminiscent of the laid-back (if a bit melancholy) sound heard from the band in the vein of their past hit, “Mr E’s Beautiful Blues.” The ragged rock band also show unusual emotion and vulnerability on the slower ballads like “The Look You Gave That Guy” and “Ordinary Man”.

The charm of The Eels is doubtless, as they’ve been stomping out good tunes for over a decade now, but the charm of “Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs Of Desire” is uncertain. It simply takes too much effort to grit your teeth and make it through some of these songs to merit listening to the CD again, which is a pity because the few stomping rock gems that are showcased here too deserve better company than the bulk of this record.

 

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