THE FIERY FURNACES - Blueberry Boat, EP
[Rough Trade,
www.roughtradeamerica.com]

Talk about unusual outfits. The Fiery Furnaces are back with a couple of new releases, both of which compound the confusion and the delight surrounding this duo [basically a sister-brother axis of Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger]. How bizarre does it get? Well, maybe bizarre isn't the right word. Let's go with the phrase eclectic rock. The opening track on "Blueberry Boat" [the rock opera album epic], which is called "Quay Cur" starts off with an easily digestible electronic fuzzy beat. After about two minutes of this, a piano goes into action with a couple of simple chords. All of this is then wrapped with the Eleanor's ethereal [almost mouse like] voice. Then an organ announces a shift in the landscape, as Matthew plays the guitar and starts to quickly recite a ton of lyrics, as if they were poetry. Following all of this, we get a convincingly beautiful acoustic guitar solo, after which Eleanor comes back to sing some more in a duo with her brother. All of this in a span of a ten minute opener. Ambitious? Fucking right! I remember the first time I'd heard this I was slightly confounded and unprepared. [How can anyone prepare you for this madness?] The remaining tunes on this epic [over 75 minutes in length] go from straight rock anthems, to skewed folk ballads, interrupted by cheap beat boxes, whacky sound effects, dashes of piano solos and adverse sound effects. The question is whether all of this is pretentious? I can't really say as my recollection of 70's rock is hazy. Some listeners may accuse this duo of the art-rock label due to the pure lyrical intellect. Then again, their lyrics can and are very silly ["I wanted to be a typewriter mender when I grew up."!!?], and I guess this is what adds to the beauty and the joy of this band. The "EP" is a forty minute romp through The Fiery Furnaces' B-sides. The good news is that it sounds nothing like throw-away outtakes. The album [after all, 40 minutes doesn't really make it an EP] concentrates on shorter "singles". It's the pop-rock sensibilities that we're faced here, as the band pulls no punches on "Tropical-Iceland", and provide glorious melodies on "Sing for Me". I can't think of many drawbacks to this collection, other than to add that an "EP" can sometimes go a long way in giving a complete picture of a band still learning to be themselves.

Tom Sekowski


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+ SIRONE BANG ENSEMBLE - Configuration
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>> THE FIERY FURNACES - Blueberry Boat, EP

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