Eels: Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire (Vagrant)

Hombre Lobo (12 Songs of Desire), the aptly named latest studio release from Eels, cuts its way out of painful heartache with lean guitar riffs, punchy lyrics and unbridled howls of pure, angry longing.

From self-defeating lust to unattainable Petrarchan crushes, the songs each center on a single aspect of desire that often seems to contradict the others. For instance, "That Look You Give That Guy" perfectly exhibits that sense of helpless wanting and wishing you feel when the one you love loves someone else. However, "Fresh Blood," the album's first single, builds with desperation as E (aka frontman Mark Everett) grows into a lone-wolf-like predator.

But the real treats on the album are expertly and lovingly crafted songs like "Ordinary Man" and "My Timing Is Off," which stand out for their deceptive simplicity; they allow E to show another side to his new werewolf persona.

Eels have always been a particularly introspective band since their 1996 debut album, Beautiful Freak, charmed the emotionally bankrupt and hopelessly rebellious teenager in all of us. With a rotating cast of talented musicians, each Eels album feels completely different from those that came before it. But with E to bring everything together, the albums are seamlessly connected, as one phase of his life spills into the next. Hombre Lobo adheres to this same principle: While, at times, the album and its sentiments may seem familiar, E always manages to surprise the listener and bring a fresh perspective that you feel you should have expected.

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