“E”, aka Mark Oliver Everett is, unfortunately, no stranger to sadness and heartbreak. At 19 he found his father, Hugh Everett III dead. His sister Elizabeth committed suicide in 1996 and his mother Nancy died two years later of lung cancer. Mark himself growing up and wondered if he would ever make it past eighteen.
Thankfully with album thirteen, Earth to Dora one sees Mark offering an overall sanguine, melodic and uplifting effort showing that despite hardship and tragedy that you will get through it and be ok. Everett certainly has a good sense of humour. His mock interview with John Lennon on the Eels website sees John confess that “Paul really did die in 1966” which undoubtedly adds insight to Paolo Baron and Ernesto Carbonetti 2020 graphic novel “Paul is Dead: When The Beatles Lost McCartney”.
The nicest thing about Earth to Dora is the upsetting events and experiences are generally not Mark’s own. For example, the track “Earth to Dora” is about an old friend who used to work on the Eels crew as a technician. It’s about him trying to cheer her up by text. Throughout this LP there is an overall calming, untroubled and peaceful ambience. For instance on track six “Are you Fucking Your Ex”, which contains the lyric of being “alone in a house of horror”; the occasional xylophone does not disrupt the yin and yang balance of the soundtrack of the previous five opening songs.
Opening with “Anything For Boo” the intro bears an uncanny resemblance to a countdown to an old BBC radio programme with simple yet sweet chords that will guarantee uninterrupted and untroubled sleep. The positive chilled vibes continue with simple placating organ chords on “Are We Alright Again” the only song from this LP that was written post-COVID. The connection and appreciation for nature is felt with the lyrics “birds and bees jamming, the theme for the neighbourhood”. The ability of Mark to create and continue this quiescent and tranquil peace of mind soundscape is perfected on “Dark and Dramatic”. Even with the violins and the song having a theme about being in love for someone who’s too “dark and dramatic” sounds too much like a lullaby to inflict negative vibes.
Three quarters into this LP on track eight with “Of Unsent Letters” we start to see a slight, yet purposeful unsettling of the tranquil apple cart with melancholy strings and guitar which continues into “I Got Hurt” which elevates these unnerving feelings a baby step notch higher. Whilst past pain is the subject matter; there is a lesson learned not to return to things that could put one in situations where this pain can be repeated with new experiences. Penultimate track “Baby let’s Make It Real” is the most passionate and tenacious with moderately exaggerated brass sounds, guitar chords and vocals and key changes. Whilst this is a serious track about making a leap of commitment with another person; it is neither invokes trepidation nor is unnerving.
Compared to the majority of Eels LP’s; Earth to Dora is one of the least eccentric. There are seldom distortions in sounds or vocals, fewer key changes and unexpected surprises. The aim of the game is creating an overall sanguine calm with peace of mind over innovation. The heavy rock sound featured on songs like “Souljacker” is absent. The halcyon bygone country songs across the Daisies of the Galaxy and Blinking Lights and Other Revelations LP’s seldom feature here.
Whilst Earth to Dora is not an innovative, experimental and pioneering LP; E has more than demonstrated his ability to be innovative, experimental and pioneering on many other LP’s for more than twenty years. One must remember that much of the innovative, experimental and pioneering material has come through experiencing and facing pain no one deserves to endure. In light of this Earth to Dora should be a celebration of being on the journey to find more inner peace, calm and happiness which Mark truly deserves to find.