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Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer

Eleanor Friedberger, Last Summer

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

ELEANOR Friedberger’s decision to record a solo album away from her Fiery Furnaces duties is not an indication of any wish to leave that outfit. Rather, it’s a furthering of her creative talents, born from the success of the Fiery Furnaces.

Hence, Last Summer is a creative spreading of the wings that showcases an artist at the peak of her form. It’s a great listen.

What’s more, it brings a more pop vibe to the Fiery Furnaces sound, while drawing on inspirations such as Donovan, Sparks and Todd Rundgren at various points.

An early indication of what to expect was gleaned from recent single, My Mistakes, which is a great starting point for the long-player with its heart-on-sleeve sentiments and breezy disposition.

But throughout Friedberger enthrals, in whatever tempo she deems fit.
Hence, a more psychedelic offering such as Heaven, with its lazy piano chords, wistful harmonising and questioning nature (“did you ever find a place to be?”), still retains a feel-good, easy listening pleasure, complete with handclap backing that in no way cheapens the intelligence inherent in the lyrics.

Mellower still is Scenes From Bensonhurst, a laidback ode to a neighbourhood that brings back plenty of memories for Friedberger and which paints a vivid picture for us.

But Friedberger then changes pace again to include some funky organ sounds on Roosevelt Island, another track born from the geography that has informed her life thus far, or the acoustic breeziness of One-Month Marathon.

She doesn’t get every track right, of course. The vocal delivery on Glitter Gold Year doesn’t always fit in with the instrumentals to my mind, while the same problem hinders the enjoyment of Owl’s Head Park.

But there’s a pleasing’60s pop vibe attached to I Won’t Fall Apart on You Tonight, which puts a snappy vibe against some desperate lyrics about a failing relationship, while album closer Early Earthquake ends things on a resolutely positive note, complete with the loved-up giddiness of early romance, finger-click beats and a belated harmonica send-off that’s utterly thrilling.

What’s more, it makes you feel as summery as the album’s title suggests you should.

Friedberger’s debut solo effort is therefore a personal triumph that should deservedly broaden her appeal as a performer.

Download picks: My Mistakes, Heaven, Scenes From Bensonhurst, I Won’t Fall Apart on You Tonight, Early Earthquake

Track listing:

  1. My Mistakes
  2. Inn of the Seventh Ray
  3. Heaven
  4. Scenes from Bensonhurst
  5. Roosevelt Island
  6. Glitter Gold Year
  7. One-Month Marathon
  8. I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight
  9. Owl’s Head Park
  10. Early Earthquake