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Reviews

The Fiery Furnaces
I'm Going Away Meryl Trussler , August 27th, 2009 09:33

You have to envy the conviction of a crazy person. Their reality may be fabricated out of all kinds of pills and swigs and mental problems but it sounds much more solid than ours, the way they yell about it. Eleanor Friedberger, of the sexy cat-lady haircut, sings everything like that. Fevered but convinced.

I'm Going Away is a patchwork of patterns, of 4/4 piano bars and phrases that she warbles over and over like an ecstatic preacher. "If I see you tomorrow, I don't know what I will do. / If I see you tomorrow, I don't know what I will do." A kind of blues where you can see the whites of the eyes. Eleanor and Mike overhaul the titular song, a traditional I'm-outta-here ditty, into something you might hear if you dragged Deerhoof to an improv jazz club: star-shaped guitar riffs and skiffling cymbals. And from there on in there's a dogged forward momentum in each battered-out vocal, each toppling flourish of that pianoforte, because a single break breaks the mood, breaks the logic. Impenetrable, intoxicating crazy-person logic. (Smells like whiskey.)

But hey, you might say. You're not so crazy anymore, Fiery Furnaces. I remember when your music ran around naked eating bicycle parts, or the aural equivalent. And hey back at you, listener, that's a good point. The bleeps and shrieks of, say, Blueberry Boat, have scattered, or at least migrated for summer. But too much erraticism might have spoiled this one, which is decidedly . . . friendlier. Not in the puffed-up sense, like an "uneducated" listener would puke/panic at the sound of a zither, not at all - it just sounds friendly. Welcome To The Neighbourhood kind of music. The press release claims this is rock 'n' roll drama more in the vein of Taxi than Titanic, and I think that describes well the yellowy, early-80s film grain over the thing, its welcoming small-time sensibility.

And it's not like the quirk vanished with the quirks: the album is still punctuated with dischord and the sheer, power-weirdness of Eleanor. Okay, and there might be one shriek. And one overblown, awesome drum solo at the end of 'Staring At The Steeple'. So. Still crazy. Just better at hiding it, grinning, and getting in the door with a handful of literature.

Make no mistake, though. Like the eponymous minx of the hair-shaking standout track 'Charmaine Champagne': they're gonna get you fucked up, baby.

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