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The Fiery Furnaces
Blueberry Boat
by: Sun-J

The Fiery Furnaces lead a dying breed of species, the rock eccentrics. Their debut, Gallowsbird's Bark sparked interest of many indie rock listeners. Their sound is marked by strenuous tempos and obscure instrumentation shifts. They often transition from electronic to acoustic without a crossfade. The fact that they are a brother-sister duo only strengthens the comparison to The White Stripes on acid. Matt and Eleanor Friedberger grew up in New York and have found success in their retro, eclectic styles. The essence of their music stems from obscure lyrics over an experimental rock instrumentation.

The opening track, "Quay Car" is a mini opera of climatic instrumentation shifts, at one point utilizing the ever famous "Wipe Out" riff on electric guitar over fast paced vocals. "Straight Street" kicks from the beginning with country twang and continues switching with retro guitars before breaking down in dwindling piano melody. The title track has an eerie feel with its soviet organ sounds as Matthew and Eleanor trade verses before unifying their vocal chords. "Chris Michaels" has piano flurry with resonating syllables, "Later at lunch with the taco lettuce crunch, crunchy sets herself apart the bunch..." "Paw Paw Tree" is an electronic country number with African drums as "My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found" continues to utilize the drums while incorporating perhaps the most riveting piano/organ on the album, combining electric and acoustic guitar leads with synthetic drums. "Mason City" speaks with instruments more so than words while "Chief Inspector Blanchefower" blends with folk and electronic pop. The soviet organs surface again on "Spaniolated" before evolving into a sound reminiscent of the Flaming Lips. Lyrically it is the best content wise as it portrays a dark tale of kidnapping through a child's eyes using comedic couples, "He put me in the hole of his old rusty crawler, and fed me three pills a day to keep me from getting taller." "1917" laments the non existent success of the Chicago Whitesox before the centerpiece of the album "Birdie Brain" with its enigmatic chorus sung with a very infectious rhythm; "I hate, the aeroplane, that nearly misses, my birdie brain, that terrifies my terrier, insane..." The Fiery Furnaces complement the song perfectly following it up with an acoustic two minute track with a crashing organ over a subtle bassline bracing listeners for the grand finale of the album in "Wolf Notes." Utilizing a fluttering flute the track summarizes the instrumentation structure of the whole album before truncating to an eerie end, almost as if The Fiery Furnaces orchestrated, rather than vocalized a "To Be Continued" ending.

Fans will already know that The Fiery Furnaces albums command more than two listens. To truly enjoy, and encompass the cacophony of the LP, it took me a strong four or five listens of each song. I suggest listening the album straight through the first two times, and then setting your CD player on shuffle. You'll find a subtle link from one song to another, for example, the opening track, "Quay Car" hints to the subject of "My Dog was Lost but Now He's Found" with the lines, "I went to Super K, have you seen any recent strays." I find The Fiery Furnaces to be strongest when the siblings trade vocals. The lyrics don't make a lot of sense but are sonically transcribed with a superior rhythm. This album is very similar to the debut, so if you are a first time The Fiery Furnaces listener, I suggest you begin your journey there.


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