The Fiery Furnaces

Widow City (Thrill Jockey)

Phases & Stages

The Fiery Furnaces

Widow City (Thrill Jockey)

The Fiery Furnaces 2003 debut, Gallowsbird's Bark, filtered blues-tinged Seventies pop through Eleanor Friedberger's insouciant storytelling and her brother Matthew's musical experimentation. The next year's Blueberry Boat was jovial and eclectic. It's been all downhill ever since. Release No. 5, Widow City, opens with the schizophrenic wank of "The Philadelphia Grand Jury," all seven minutes, chameleon blasts of Matthew's keys giving Robert D'Amico's metronomic drumming a noogie. Perplexity subsides with first melodic track "The Old Hag Is Sleeping," but it suffers from Eleanor's increasingly tangential lyrics. The roaring bass of Sixties dream "Navy Nurse" shatters beneath her wordiness, and "Restorative Beer" is failed rock opera. The remainder of the 16-song, hourlong question mark is emphatic spoken word hurled over a sound check – pretentious, superfluous, and ultimately unlistenable. (Fiery Furnaces alight at Emo's, Friday, Oct. 26 & Saturday, Oct. 27.)

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