“The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett”

Jake Tapley

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Mark Oliver Everett has been making music for the better part of two decades, forming the indie rock band Eels in 1995.

Although much of his work is known for being diverse or experimental in nature, his newest release steps away from all of that to accomplish a more stripped-down and straight-forward acoustic folk sound.

“The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett” is possibly the most intimate release by Eels to date and is, at times, quite personal and revealing.

The album is structured in a way that can be understood as a momentary reflection. The opening track, “Where I’m At,” is a somber instrumental number with piano and stringed instruments dueling for nearly two minutes.

“Where I’m From,” the album’s sixth track, picks up the pace a bit, functioning as a thematic interlude.

The closing track on the album and one of my personal favorites, “Where I’m Going,” provides an outlook for the autobiographical character, Mark Oliver Everett.

With the basic structure for the album set up so clearly, most of the album’s surprise exists in the gaps in between these songs.

The darkest parts of these gaps reveal ambiguous childhood abuse in “Series of Misunderstandings” and a coming-to-terms epiphany in “Dead Reckoning.”

The album gets lighter towards the end, with songs like the upbeat “Answers” and lead single, “Mistakes of My Youth,” which examines the concept of regret in a much healthier way.

With 11 studio albums in 19 years, there has been plenty of time for regret. But at the end of the album, we get the sense that Mark Oliver Everett is okay with that.

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