Mark ‘E’ Everett lives his life on record. By listening to his songs we know nearly everything there is to know about the man and his personality, not to mention his highly eventful life, and what a wretched hand it has often dealt him.
Often the music has played the role of counsellor, saving the singer from a near certain breakdown by giving him an outlet to express his anguish, his woes, and, on several occasions, his happiness. And so it is here, as we reach the divorce album.
Initial signs aren’t good for the patient, appearing on the front cover in Adrian Tomine‘s illustration as a hobo whose hair is as grey as his face. And yet, in the course of the break-up album, the record one might have dreaded Everett having to make, he finds an unique form of peace.
The idea that this is his intense form of therapy holds true in the lyrics, which, as ever, draw back the curtain to his soul. “Everything was beautiful and free, in the beginning,” he remembers a little wistfully. No doubt it’s these memories that lead him to complain that “I’ve had enough, been through some stuff, and I don’t need any more misery.” We wouldn’t wish it on him.
Yet it’s E’s characteristic to dust himself down and return with a sense of resolve, and that happens immediately with Mansions Of Los Feliz, putting a spring back in his step and a note of positivity back into the vocal.
As a vocalist E has changed, and the croon that used to hint at soft rock on Novocaine For The Soul has become a gruff howl that sounds rather haggard in End Times. “Just look at the world,” he whines. “It could all be over at any old time.”
Paradise Blues, on the subject of a suicide bomber, takes up the theme again – but again finds musical resolve in upbeat blues. “I’m gonna walk these filthy streets, I’m gonna raise my head”, he sings, before whooping exaggeratedly. “I may not be in paradise, but I’m not dead!”
There is a fascination in listening to Mark Everett, the kind of fascination that goes with picking scabs or blisters, or the strange inspiration from feeling someone somewhere is going through a worse time than you. Yet, as the album closes, he gathers himself one last time. “One sweet day I’ll be back on my feet”, he sings wearily, “and I’ll be alright.” That’s all we needed to know.