EELS EELSTomorrow Morning
Mark Everett has gone into the closet again (it was in a closet where he first started recording his songs when he was no more than a solitary child who hated almost everybody) to finish the trilogy that started a year ago with the sombre “Hombre Lobo” and continued with the melancholy and moribund “End Times” (which came out in January of this year). The result is “Tomorrow Morning”, an album of redemption, as Everett himself has confessed (although one listen to the wonderful “Oh, So Lovely” is enough to realise that the storm has passed and Mark is a new man—in fact, he’s “The Man”, as he declares in the tenth cut, “The Man”, a jewel of Mr. E sarcasm), directly related to “Daisies of the Galaxy” and, lacking a single as big as “Birds”, with the more intense and less easily-digested “Blinking Lights and other Revelations”.
In any case, it’s an improvised trilogy. After a gap of nearly five years, which Mr. E used to write “Things the Grandchildren Should Know”, a summary of his life in the form of a frankly addictive novel, Everett started composing again and very soon put together an impressive amount of material. So, he decided to put it into three groups and release three works that had little or nothing to do with each other. In reality, if they share anything, it’s the desire to get out of a hole and make a fresh start, which wouldn’t have been possible if the novel hadn’t existed. When Everett sat down to exorcise demons and shut up his musical animal in the next room, he took a giant step towards what this album symbolises: redemption. And later, once the novel was finished, he translated what he had felt writing it into a handful of new songs. So “Hombre Lobo” is “the before, the anxiety that starts everything,” “End Times”, “the after, the way that you deal with the after-effects,” and the current “Tomorrow Morning”, “a new start and another opportunity.” Sort of the introduction, the conflict, the resolution, and a hopeful epilogue (in the form of a bonus EP of five brilliant songs, which are even better than the album, as is the case with the explosive “St. Elizabeth Story”).
Well, this is “Tomorrow Morning”: a return to background noise, a return to the happily sad pop collage that Everett has been composing since he was a boy and used to cut classes to cut and paste sounds together on the four-track he kept in his closet. But let’s not fool ourselves, “Tomorrow Morning” isn’t a luminous album (although “Mystery of Life”, the last cut, seems like it at times, and the album’s Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed experiment, “Looking Up”, is more than positive), but rather just the opposite. It’s hard ( “The Morning”), brutal ( “Spectacular Girl”, or “the sampler girl who loaded up the shotguns and later shot them off”) and at times painfully sad ( “I Like the Way This Is Going”, or “how watching television with your girlfriend can turn into the best moment of the day.”) But the message is hopeful. Let’s say that the album starts off with a crushing silence (the two first cuts, “I’m A Hummingbird” and the aforementioned “The Morning” are both sinister), on a cloudy day when nothing good is expected, which goes along weaving melodies (syllables) as it goes along, as the sun comes out, to end up (on the EP) a shining, clear sky.
No, “Tomorrow Morning” isn’t Everett’s masterpiece (“Blinking Lights and other Revelations” and “Electro-Shock Blues” can duke it out for that title), but it is a notable new beginning (pay attention to the concept of the “reset” album, because that’s what Mr. E is proposing) that although it doesn’t lose sight of the infernal past (death has pursued the guy since he reached adulthood, and has already taken a good part of his family), it does look toward the future with the feeling that everything is going to turn out just fine.