1. Eels - End Times
2010 was a very good year for me. It was an extremely busy year—a wedding and home purchase will do that—but an excellent one nonetheless. Still, I was able to post to the blog a personal record number of times, even reaching the century mark with yesterday's entry.
Also, despite it being such a good year, my album of the year isn't a happy one. From what I understand, this was a very personal record for Eels' frontman Mark Oliver Everett (aka "E"), so much so that apparently he refused to be interviewed regarding its subject matter. He did, however, admit that “This will be some people’s favorite Eels album and some people’s least favorite." Obviously, I fall into the former category, although I was a fan of their breakthrough single, 1996's "Novocaine for the Soul."
End Times is a classic breakup album, covering the territory of all the thoughts that go through a man's head as he experiences lost love. These reflections start with reminiscing about when everything was right, as Everett sings, "Wasn't no one in the world, wasn't nothing else, just me and my girl," on album opener "The Beginning."
The subject matter rapidly shifts, though. "A Line in the Dirt"—which shares my song of the year honors with Wolf Parade's "What Did My Lover Say?" and Cloud Cult's "Running With the Wolves"—begins with the humorous admission, "She locked herself in the bathroom again, so I am pissing in the yard." However, it quickly progresses to the ill-fated ultimatum in the song's chorus: "I drew a line into the dirt, and dared her to step right across it, and she did."
Eventually, desperation yields to determination, although somewhat meekly. The album's penultimate track, "Little Bird," is a conversation between E and a bird visiting him on his porch, in which he reluctantly admits, "Little bird, I guess you're right. I can't let it take me out without a fight." By referring to his nemesis as "it," rather than "her," it appears he's coming to terms with the process of moving on.
Finally, on the album's closing track, "On My Feet," he prepares himself for that realization. Although his thoughts do wander back to how much he misses that girl—"But one thing I know that is true in this world is the love that I felt for you"—ultimately he knows that "One sweet day I'll be back on my feet, and I'll be alright."
I've written several times before that I've begun to wonder what my relationship with sad music would be, now that I'm in a satisfying romantic relationship of my own. I think End Times confirms that I can still appreciate this type of music, particularly because I can relate to the subject matter without letting it bring me down. While End Times occasionally reminded me of some past experiences, it also underscored to me how happy I am with how things have turned out.
Once again, on the occasion of this final day of the year, I want to wish everyone who reads this blog—whether regularly or just occasionally—a happy new year, and, of course, the best of luck in 2011.
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