“As the singer with the Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger was integral to the band’s capricious sound, yet always seemed oddly subordinate to her older brother Matthew’s aggressively experimental musical vision. Freed of his obstreperous direction, her debut solo album is an almost straightforward pop delight: the pace is relaxed, the rhythms are tidy, the melodies are unabashed, and any kinks and wonky bits (she is a Friedberger, after all) are firmly controlled… But if Friedberger is willing to play by the indie-pop-folk-soul rules with her backing tracks, as a singer she remains as wayward as ever, her velvety voice, so urgent and melancholy in its expression, rendering even the most nakedly autobiographical lyrics here impenetrably opaque.” – The Guardian ****
Eleanor Friedberger is known for her work in Chicago’s the Fiery Furnaces, a band she created with her brother Matthew at the turn of the millennium. Together they won a number of awards, sold out happenings the world over and recorded nine albums whose sales total well over 100k. That experience, combined with the fact that the Fiery Furnaces aren’t breaking up, inspired her to make her first solo record, Last Summer.
In the music, you will hear the casual confrontation of the most emotionally direct Fiery Furnaces songs,
plus a lot of snap, crackle and pop. In fact, in these songs made of memories, you will hear the future. Sparks, Donovan, Procol Harum, Kath Bloom, Lô Borges and Todd Rundgren too. Friedberger’s phrasing is as good as anyone’s; even better, when the line’s over and most other singers would leave it right there, she’ll throw in an unnecessary extra syllable—a “yuh” or an “er,” even an “oh oh.”
With Last Summer, Eleanor Friedberger may well be telling us about last summer, or various last summers, or even—WATCH OUT!—the last summer there will ever be. . . One thing is certain: she’s playing a long game. Welcome to Level One.