The Fieriest Furnace!
Eleanor Friedberger's Last Summer
Before we get all
pretentious and up-our-own-indie-rock-butts about it, know this:
You do NOT need to decode anything Eleanor Friedberger says on her
new record to enjoy it. I certainly don't . . . and I certainly
Eleanor is one of two siblings that make up indie rock melodic
darlings The Fiery Furnaces. Her solo record, Last Summer,
is like a Fiery Furnaces album, minus the Matthew (Friedberger).
You won't find noisy samples, verses repeated in reverse or grandma-centric concept pieces (joyful though
they all may be) but if you love the poppy hooks and quirky stories
found on the FF records like Gallowsbird's Bark and
I'm Going Away, you owe it to yourself to hear Last
Summer this summer.
Last Summer does boast a few challenging waypoints for
casual listeners and we're the better for it. It's more than a
straight-ahead pop album; requiring your attention and rewarding
your time. So much of Friedberger's charm comes not from the
stories she tells but the personal way she tells them. In "The Inn
Of The Seventh Ray" you can never be sure if Eleanor is relating
the story to you or if in fact you're the song's subject.
"Roosevelt Island" is similarly personal featuring anecdote-laden
strings of consciousness:
"...like that time we took the tram down to Roosevelt Island / You made me feel like I was more like you than like me / And I liked that"
Friedberger speaks/sings as if you and she have a long history
together. It's a unique approach that I've never quite put my
finger on until now even after nine Fiery Furnaces albums featuring
this same dynamic. It's another reason Last Summer is a
joy with each listen.
The limited melancholy on the album comes during back to back songs
"Glitter Gold Year" and "One-Month Marathon." They both may have
you questioning whether Friedberger is displaying staunch
confidence or employing an ironic smoke screen to sum up the year
she penned this album. Compare that attitude to the album's opening
Opinions on creative origins and meaning will always vary; with
Last Summer, as with every recording I'm strongly attached, I can
only drape my own experiences on the skeletal frame built by the
Last Summer is like a July afternoon just before a
rainstorm. Not gloomy or dour but refreshing, gentle,
brimming with anticipation and freedom.
More of The Vignettes!
Here's the full in-studio session with Memphis TN's The
Vignettes. You'll find three songs not included in Off Air's main
episode this week. Check it out.
Find more about Francis and Freddi Vignette at Reverbnation including cuts from their record Teeth (posted below).