Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Sean Duggan
Before hearing Matthew Friedberger read from Milton's fourth book of A Paradise Lost, the thought had never occurred that considering the Fiery Furnaces lyrics an extension of all that is found in the various stages of debilitated existence. There's sometimes a jumpiness and a permeating sense that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, but more often than not, there's more moroseness than you can shake a stick at and the real light at the end of the tunnel is likely a match ready to light the fuse to blow everything up. Even if there's no merit to the most dour of thoughts - the smudged faces of the damned, the icy temperatures and the despair of time - are not the building blocks of the band's songs, per se, its sixth full-length Widow City could fool you into thinking we're dealing with a duo of pessimists and wasn't that really all Milton was? Okay, that's over simplification, but it got us somewhere. The new album is another elongated chapter in the siblings' Friedberger's complicated and often difficult oeuvre. It's wordy like the other five and there's a lot of casing for meaning. Every time you throw a Furnaces album on, the first thought that you always think is, "Who really sings about this shit? Honestly?" It's not an unsettling or upsetting feeling or question, it just is. It's there because there's relatively little rhyming, little concern for fitting the round peg into the round holes. It's a lot of using that hammer to beat the song into whatever is wanted. It's imaginative and difficult in that way and it's as signature as you're ever going to want to get. They're singular in their steps, a true rarity, and these 60 minutes of stories after stories after discourses about fictitious people with blustery issues and attitudes are an identity not to be confused with any other. It's impeccable in its idiosyncrasies. Added bonus in the reading: Hearing Eleanor burst into the room and ask, "What are you doing?" twice and Matthew playing it off like only a self-assured and confident brother could. Then as the reading goes to silence, she strikes again and I'm not going to ruin the surprise.
"The Fiery Furnaces Official Site":http://www.thefieryfurnaces.com
"Thrill Jockey Records":http://www.thrilljockey.com