The subtitle to Mark E. Everett’s seventh album is ’12 Songs of Desire’. Given that Everett himself is pictured on the cover sporting a full-length beard, one could surmise that the desire in question is of the unrequited variety. Neverthless, ‘Hombre Loco’ is a punchy record which opens, appropriately enough, with a track entitled ‘Prizefighter’.
The songs can be neatly split into two camps. Firstly, there’s Everett cast as the howling blues rocker and secondly he is the wounded balladeer. The one consistent is Everett’s self-appraisal where he may be “lovelorn” and “desperate” for ‘Lilac Breeze’ but he’s always loyal (as evinced on ‘The Look You Give That Guy’).
As is often the way with Eels records, it’s the slower material that hits home. There are few artists active today who can convey vulnerability allied with classically melodic songwriting. ‘The Longing’ is beautifully warm and poignant; exactly the kind of song a man should be making in his early forties. Alas, his guttural roar for ‘Tremendous Dynamite’ is nowhere near so easy on the ear.
‘Hombre Loco’ is some way off the highpoint of ‘Electro-Shock Blues’ but given that period in his life was so fraught with grief and misery, Everett deserves a break even if it does lead to a patchy set of songs such as this. For at least half the time though, Everett has retained his status as the underdog romantic of choice.