The Fiery Furnaces: I’m Going Away
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The Fiery Furnaces: I’m Going Away

B+

The Fiery Furnaces

Album: I’m Going Away
Label: Thrill Jockey

As admirable as The Fiery Furnaces’ commitment to whimsy and experimentation has been over the past five years, a vocal subset of the band’s fans—mainly those who fell hard for the snappy debut Gallowsbird’s Bark—have occasionally wondered if Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger still have it in them just to write and record a simple set of songs. Even 2006’s Bitter Tea, described by Eleanor as “the poppiest thing we’ve done,” is full of superfluous synthesizer scrape and woozy rhythms, as immediately off-putting as any of The Fiery Furnaces’ atonal rock operas. The duo’s new I’m Going Away, by contrast, could be described as “abrasion-light.” Songs like the skittery title track, the plaintive piano ballad “The End Is Near,” and the groovy, Thin Lizzy-esque “Lost At Sea” are honestly ingratiating, ideal for some future “Intro To The Fiery Furnaces” junior college course. Make no mistake: The Fiery Furnaces have never been especially eclectic—even Gallowsbird’s Bark gets pretty repetitive—and I’m Going Away won’t surprise anyone familiar with the Friedbergers’ predilection for chopped-up blues riffs, martial rhythms, bebop breaks, three-or-four-word choruses, and impenetrably insular folklore. But now neophytes have an easier way in to one of modern rock’s most adventurous acts. That’s good for the band, and good for their fans-to-be.

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