JULY: Rebound by Eleanor Friedberger

Hello sunshine. Hello Eleanor.

So. I don’t know how well The Brothers know The Fiery Furnaces, the wilfully leftfield band that consisted of Eleanor and her brother, Matthew. They were like nothing else – a knotty indie band that wrote dense, weird songs with names like “Chief Inspector Blancheflower”, “The Philadelphia Grand Jury” and “The Old Hag is Sleeping”. Their songs’ lyrics sounded like they were some little known novel, and the structure of their songs were often really strange, veering off into different time frames or arranged in several parts.

Now, that makes them sound WAY harder work than they were. They were a bit eccentric, but they were surprisingly easy to love. Well, by me, anyway. Marc Riley used to play them loads on 6Music and I fell for them, bit by bit.

Adam Buxton, on his excellent podcast, recently did an episode with Eleanor F – one that was actually recorded a couple of years back, but for some reason, he wasn’t happy with. I don’t know, I found it charming and it really got to the heart of his subject. As an intro to Eleanor, you couldn’t do any better. I’d strongly recommend listening:

What’s clear from that is that her brother was quite the control freak in the band, and she felt trapped and straitjacketed in the band. Since their seemingly permanent hiatus, she’s started to carve out a strong solo career of her own, with a series of increasingly accessible solo albums, of which is the 4th, and in my opinion, the strongest.

Despite her brother’s control freakery, you can hear in Eleanor’s solo work that she was very much a big part of the Fiery Furnaces’s sound, not least because her beguiling vocals define so much of their output. She’s still fond of obtuse lyrics at times, and slightly wonky music. But what she has done is grown in confidence in writing more direct pop songs – and unlike the FF, this more pop than rock, I think. As you know, I think the P word is much maligned and is one of the highest art forms on Earth! Writing the perfect pop song: what a skill.

So what we have here is Friedberger at her warmest, her most human, her most direct. She hasn’t lost her leftfield edge, and to me, this still feels unusual and far from generic. But has she ever written as out and out a cracking pop tune as ‘Make Me A Song’? There’s a lovely mix of slow jams and uptempo numbers, and the songwriting throughout is A class. Great for lazy summer days too.

Hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. This Furnace is perhaps less fiery these days, and more smouldering. It’s working for me.

7 comments

  1. misterstory

    Great choice brother David. First impressions are good. I do think its an album that deserves attention. It’s not background music is it? Is it just me or is something strangely reassuring about an old fashioned 10 track album. I was so happy when I saw the track listing. I thought, ‘Great, no filler, no skits, no blah’. And it delivered to these expectations. These are 10 well crafted and developed tracks. ‘My Jesus Phase’ is such an amazing album opener. Possibly my favourite track. Lots to love and lots more to be revealed through living with.

    I can hear so many things in these tracks – Kate Bush (sorry cliche but she’s in there), Twin Shadow (really), Beach House, The Letter could be a Tracy Thorn/EBTG track – and these are only the ones I can think of at the moment.

    We’ve had quite a few female solo artists recently … just saying. I like it.

  2. whyohwhyohwhy

    Sorry for the lateness on replying. I’ve been busy with this getting married lark. It’s a bit intense, eh!

    I’ve also wanted to wait a bit before responding as first impressions don’t always feel right. Also, having listened to – and thoroughly enjoyed – her Buxton podcast I was curious already. I don’t know anything about FF, but that’s probably a good clean slate to approach this from. And it’s just as enjoyable as I’d hoped, with a real chance of this sticking around.

    It’s just really good, interesting pop music, and that’s no mean feat these days. I’ve got a few favourites already: Everything, Give Me A Song, In Between Stars. Above all, it’s just some great hooks, lyrics and songs. What more should you want?

    More of this, please.

  3. nolankane706

    Always late to the party I apologise for my tardiness. I wanted to give this time whilst I was on holiday as pre holiday I wasn’t in the right head space; ie. I was super stressed and if it wasn’t hip hop or techno everything was shit!

    Anyway I took this album with me on holiday and had two weeks of sunshine, family time and chilled nights to get stuck into this album and it was the right choice. My initial thoughts were that the album reminded me of the Future Islands and some hints of Tracy Thorn.

    I did find the album a bit hard to get into at first, perhaps it’s the order? Everything was the song that first caught me. I need to highlight when the album is on repeat this is no longer and issue.

    Super strong album, and as brother Joey highlighted, it’s great to have some new female vocals in the house.

  4. misterstory

    Still loving this one. It gives me an instant smile. Thanks brother David.

    David – do you hear the Tracy Thorn thing? I understood your middle-aged-pop issues with the Tracy Thorn album and feel the same could be said for this. Any reflections? Not trying to be a clever-dick but genuinely interested in your thoughts? Was it the subject matter that brought the middle-aged-ness to Tracy Thorn’s songs?

    • David Allison

      Good question, that I am now answering after far too long an absence. I don’t know why this doesn’t remind me of the Tracy Thorn. Why is that? Perhaps it’s that Eleanor F feels quite oddball and off kilter, so even in the midst of quite a sweet pop confection, there’s an edge. I didn’t feel that with TT – it’s straight down the line electro pop middle aged confessions. And that’s its strength, but it didn’t lure me back repeatedly.

      You enter an artist’s world with an album, don’t you? That’s what we celebrate on this blog, right? And I guess, as with friendships, they have different qualities, and some you are drawn to more than others. But it’s an interesting thing to consider…

  5. whyohwhyohwhy

    This really is ace. I’m two weeks further in and I’m getting more depths and rewards from listening. It’s also that lovely creeping familiarity you get from music that starts to wind it’s way into your subconscious. Where you look forward to a song because it’s leading to the next, and the next….

    Excellent choice Brother David. A real joy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s