The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City

‘Widow City’ proves that the Friedbergers are still an experimental indie force to be reckoned with.

However talented they are (and some would claim them to be genii), The Fiery Furnaces are routinely as accessible as the flame-filled structures from which they take their name. Clearly, Matthew Friedberger loves his concepts far more than he loves his ability to spawn near-perfect tunes on a whim. Any cautious converts of the inappropriately-titled ‘EP’ did a runner as soon as ‘Rehearsing My Choir’ was released. For that LP, the Friedbergers’ Grandma Olga was roped in to narrate, narrate over its entirety.

As arguably fascinating as that was, most will be relieved to hear that the only relative present on ‘Widow City’ is Matthew’s regular compadre and sister Eleanor, who sings rather wonderfully throughout. The inspiration for this album apparently lies with early-70s classic pop and rock, and the evidence is everywhere - Iggy Pop would be right at home jiving to the heavier sections of ‘Clear Signal From Cairo’, ‘Pricked in the Heart’ is a looser-tongued King Crimson and Ziggy Stardust would be receiving royalties for ‘Carabet Of The Seven Devils’ if only he existed.

The Furnaces, of course, have taken these sublime melodies and arranged them in strange, unnatural orders, flitting between sections without warning and interspersing them with cheesy, yet strangely majestic keyboard instrument effects. It’s almost like an update of The Beatles‘Abbey Road’ medley, which is no bad thing at all.

Still writing hooks Phil Spector would kill for, still being deliberately awkward and loving it, ‘Widow City’ proves that the Friedbergers are still an experimental indie force to be reckoned with.

Tags: The Fiery Furnaces, Reviews, Album Reviews

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