Fiery Furnaces I'm Going Away(Thrill Jockey) Buy it from Insound
Beware; if you were frustrated by the Friedberger’s hijinx in the past your feelings won’t change, even if this is a highly accessible album, for the Fiery Furnaces anyway. Not a 75-minute rambling epic, or a detailed narrative told by the Friedberger sibling’s grandmother, I’m Going Away consists of a dozen tidy tracks, making it the Furnaces' most listenable and user-friendly album since the ten song EP surfaced in 2005. This album is tempered and more concise, but in no way is it a cop out. Eleanor’s narratives are still long-winded and obtuse and Matthew’s musical arrangements are still that of schizo-hyperbole, simply not as much.
It’s hard to imagine the Fiery Furnaces operating in a mold so constricting and foreign as verse-chorus-verse. The opening title track begins in this controlled fashion, possibly just a fluke. But by the time the sentimental The End is Near comes around, it’s obvious that this is part of a new approach. With a jazzy piano line, dual vocals and straightforward cadences, this is the closest the band will ever come to gracing Lite-FM. Throughout I’m Going Away tame instrumentation generally abides by a single time signature. This is minimalism compared to the Furnace’s usual doctrine. Piano movements build the foundations with a few impressive guitar licks, like on the catchy standouts Keep Me in the Dark and Even in the Rain. Both of these upbeat pop perfections brim with energy and rely on more repetition than the band has ever cared to employ.
The electronic flair has been largely moved to the background and they sound like a cohesive band playing together for the first time since their bluesy debut, Gallowsbird’s Bark. Eleanor’s voice is still engaging and idiosyncratic enough to ward off any fair-weather fans. Without any of those garbled reversed vocals that littered Bitter Tea she admits in a more confessional than fanciful manner “I used to be proud to be me / but now I’m all lost at sea.” It’s finally relatable, and due to the reiteration and comprehensible lyrics, singable.
When the Fiery Furnaces unleashed Blueberry Boat on the world in 2004, it seemed obvious they would be one of the rock bands representative of the 00’s. Impatient and wile they embraced technology to create a post-modern rock opus. But The Furnaces’ formula was bound to get tiresome after a while. Imagine if they continued with one lengthy, arduous, convoluted album after the next. Embracing temperance is really the smartest thing the band could’ve done. It also fills the album with a bubbling-over effect. There are almost too many ideas to be contained in such a tight package. I’m Going Away may not be as ambitious as past projects, but it proves what fans have known all along. The Fiery Furnaces are more than capable of producing catchy three-minute pop songs. They simply waited until now to do so, resulting in one of their best albums yet.29 July, 2009 - 10:10 — Brett Oronzio