It’s tempting to bemoan the loss of the studio-whiz wunderkind who helmed the first few Eels albums before evolving into the craggy miserablist who’s been running the show since. Lead Eel Mark Oliver Everett would be at the end of his rope if he hadn’t long since let it go. As it is, “The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett” has the soft intimacy of “John Wesley Harding,” generating such a flat affect that it remains bloodless and numb. Which might be the point. Lamenting over a woman he wishes he had treated better, “Agatha Chang” has the sad croak of Leonard Cohen but none of the grace, while “Gentleman’s Choice” recalls Tom Waits, wallowing in loserdom but without the palliative of drunkenness. “I can’t keep repeating the mistakes of my youth,” Everett sings, when it’s the mistakes of his premature old age that are the trouble. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Mistakes of My Youth“
Eels play at Berklee Performance Center May 29.Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.