Illustration titled "Acrobates Representant la Tour Eiffel" from L'Exposition de Paris, 1878
I've been infatuated with the icy stare of Fiery Furnaces vocalist Eleanor Friedberger for a long time - my special lady friend attributes this to Friedberger looking a bit like me in a brunette wig. My heart melted when I saw Last Summer, an album that features a beautifully executed Friedberger stare on its cover - there was no way I was going to pass on such an album. Now, I love the idea of the Fiery Furnaces and have all their albums, but I find that I rarely reach for one of their LPs on a whim. Crammed with convoluted lyrics, musical ideas, and rapid-fire singing, Fiery Furnaces songs are sometimes just TOO MUCH. Last Summer follows the trend of the last Fiery Furnaces record (I'm Going Away, probably my favorite LP of theirs) by toning down the quirks and focusing on classic, pop-song execution. With Friedberger's unique lyrical style and "talk-sing" delivery, the songs are still plenty interesting without going over the top.
The cornucopia of musical ideas that is Friedberger's brother Matthew is occasionally missed, as on the plodding "Glitter Gold Year", but Last Summer has surprisingly few dull moments. The songs are fairly low-key but hold the listener's attention with good melodies and interesting lyrics - however, I do wish there were a couple more upbeat numbers like "I Won't Fall Apart on You Tonight" and "My Mistakes". The latter song is easily the best song on the record, with a clever arrangement and cool chorus hook. Oh, and it has a saxophone solo because... well, because this is an indie-rock record and it's 2011, I guess.
"My Mistakes" by Eleanor Friedberger