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on 30 January 2005
Sound the alarm bells, it's an indie b-sides album, a phrase which usually translates as 'druggy castoffs and not-good-enough-to-be-album tracks cobbled together for a bit more cash'. Thankfully, this isn't the case with this incorrectly-titled (it's 10 songs and 41 minutes long, but costs a fiver) collection from NYC's King and Queen of Kook, Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger. What we have here are b-sides from their first album, a fantastically jazzy single version of Tropical Ice-Land and their 2004 stop-gap single. Naturally, it's all over the place, with songs ranging from electro nursery rhymes (Single Again), straight-up piano pop (Evergreen) and alliteration-heavy jams (Cousin Chris, Sullivan's Social Slub). But it's all tied together with their skewed sense of melody and experimental instrumentation.
EP finds the Furnaces at their poppiest: there's none of Blueberry Boat's eight-minute aural workouts, only Matthew's trademark wah-wah guitar and some crossover-friendly sharp tunes. Their typical indecipherable wordplay is at times replaced with something new. Single Again, for example, is surprisingly blunt about domestic violence, while Sing For Me is simply a sweet lullaby featuring a fantastic vocal performance from Matthew. Bizarrely, the EP is more coherent than either of the Furnaces' two albums, the shortcomings of which prevented some from realising what a fine band they really are. Newcomers should start their collection right here, and this should tide the converted over until their next album, which is apparently a collection of duets between Eleanor and her grandmother. Ooh err.
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on 10 April 2005
To clarify, this is not an "indie B sides" album, as a previous reviewer suggested. In fact, it collects both A and B sides of most of their singles to date. So no problems there. Accordingly, it is more accessible than 'Blueberry Boat' [thus would make a good introduction to an, admittedly, challenging band].
The price is notable here- it is called 'EP', but it features 10 songs, as many [almost] as a lot of full-lengths. And yet you pay only £4.99 here on amazon.co.uk, as though it were a much shorter [and a much less brilliant] work. Great.
Musically, this is good stuff: fun and ambitious. The music is a fusion of styles- electropop, new wave, indie rock etc., and probably not much like that of any other band around.
'Sing For Me' and 'Single Again' are personal highlights.
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I'm not sure why the Fiery Furnaces call this collection "EP," since it's the length of many full albums.

But it shows how talented this new band is that even their odds, ends and leftovers are better than average, spanning different styles and full of fresh enthusiasm. Yeah there's no flow -- unlike most of their albums -- but the songs are brilliant little nuggets of the Furnaces' musical genius.

It kicks off with some stiff, dancey electropop, which sounds a bit like Devo at times. "I married a man, oh then!/I married a man oh then!/I married a man, he was the plague of my life/and oh I wish I was single again," Eleanor Friedberger sings in little bursts, singing of a woman who just keeps going for the same kind of abusive guy ("he beat me and banged me oh then!").

But then the tone changes radically, with the entrance of "Here Comes the Summer's" charmingly loopy, lush pop, complete with muffled acoustic guitars, or "Evergreen's" offbeat, slightly jerky rock leading up to a delicately buzzy little climax. It's hard listen to these three without being hungry for more.

What comes after that is not exactly even and flowing. It's very much in the style of their "Blueberry Boat" album, yet all the songs are unlinked. Rollicking rock-pop sits next to enchantingly ethereal pop ditties, and folky tunes sit beside weird art-pop. The finale, "Sullivan Social Club," is a masterful mix of electro swooshes and stately indiepop.

The rapid changes in style are what keep "EP" from being, as Mary Poppins puts it, practically perfect in every way. Were the songs linked, it would have been an absolute masterpiece from beginning to end. As it is, the songs can be taken individually as fun, often catchy indiepop that never sacrifices its complexity and quality for cheap hooks.

What it does do is show off the Fiery Furnaces' wide range of styles. The lines between styles blur in many of these songs, using acoustic guitar, fuzzy piano and electronic swooshes to make rock, pop, dance music and exquisite ballads -- occasionally all at once. And their quirky songwriting gets another stretch, with only a few that skim too close to cutesiness.

Fuzzy piano, ethereal melodies and dancepop all mesh together in this colorful collection, which only proves that the Fiery Furnaces are headed for even greater things. After all, a patchwork "EP" of B-sides and leftovers is still delicious music.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I'm not sure why the Fiery Furnaces call this collection "EP," since it's the length of many full albums. But it shows how talented this new band is that even their odds, ends and leftovers are better than average. This colorful collection has no real flow, but it still ends up being one of the best releases thus far from 2005.

It kicks off with some stiff, dancey electropop, which sounds a bit like Devo at times. But then the tone changes radically, with the entrance of "Here Comes the Summer's" charmingly loopy pop, complete with muffled acoustic guitars, or "Evergreen's" offbeat, slightly jerky rock. It's hard listen to these three without being hungry for more.

What comes after that is not exactly even and flowing. It's very much in the style of their "Blueberry Boat" album, yet all the songs are unlinked. Rollicking rock-pop sits next to enchantingly ethereal pop ditties, and folky tunes sit beside weird art-pop. The finale, "Sullivan Social Club," is a masterful mix of electro swooshes and stately indiepop.

The rapid changes in style are what keep "EP" from being, as Mary Poppins puts it, practically perfect in every way. Were the songs linked, it would have been an absolute masterpiece. As it is, the songs can be taken individually as fun, often catchy indiepop that never sacrifices its complexity and quality for cheap hooks.

What it does do is show off the Fiery Furnaces' wide range of styles. The lines between styles blur in many of these songs, using acoustic guitar, fuzzy piano and electronic swooshes to make rock, pop, dance music and exquisite ballads. And their quirky songwriting gets another stretch, with only a few that skim too close to cutesiness.

Fuzzy piano, ethereal melodies and dancepop all mesh together in this colorful collection, which only proves that the Fiery Furnaces are headed for even greater things. After all, a patchwork "EP" of B-sides and leftovers is one of the best releases so far this year.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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