Posted by: Johnny Loftus on November 30, 2007 at 4:00 pm
FIERY FURNACES, Widow City (Thrill Jockey, 2007)
Everyone goes pop eventually. Nearly designated to the irrelevance pile by the Internet tastemakers (only nearly, because you know they were at home jamming Blueberry Boat all by their lonesome), but almost asked for it by releasing a record of deranged collabos with their grandmother, Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger return with their own “can I get a fuck you” on Widow City, a pop record more savage than most released into a media world that forgets just as soon as it discovers. On “Ex Guru,” Eleanor’s vocals don’t just suggest Chrissie Hynde; she is Chrissie Hynde, and the elastic jam backing up her first-person scatting might as well be the rock-pop that the Pretenders did so well.
The Furnaces are still fucked up. They’ll still put a Lawrence of Arabia break into the same song, just to say “we’re more Brooklyn” than, well, anyone. But then there’s “My Egyptian Grammar,” and “Wicker Whatnots,” a blurping scorcher than sounds like one of those latter-era Sebadoh Jason Lowenstein entries, all sharp corners for you to trip and hit your head on. The Furnaces’ pop on Widow City is run through gutter mud, and likely the marathon watching of a thousand movies on AMC Classics. But it’s pop inside the environs of how that music works best these days — to fool the listener with its damage, or its art, or its indifferent sense of cool, only to bring stone fox sexy vocals and steady beats to the table, making all the dismissives eat their Nike throwback trainers. Plus, for fans of crazy, there’s the title track, which sounds like the Furnaces back in that kitchen and having a mighty food fight with the cast iron dutch ovens.
Now is the time for top ten lists; let’s hope Widow City doesn’t get shuttled to the also-ran “what you didn’t hear” list. — Johnny Loftus
[tags]Fiery Furnaces, Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, Chrissie Hynde[/tags]