The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Record review

Reviewed by Darcie Stevens, August 20, 2004, Music

The Fiery Furnaces

Blueberry Boat (Rough Trade)

Rodgers & Hammerstein, Gilbert & Sullivan, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Friedberger & Friedberger, threaded by lyricism, length, and success. Wait a second. Who are those last two? Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger destroyed a pedigree of hipster rock on last year's debut, Gallowsbird's Bark, by combining musical elements that had never met while still keeping it simple. The brother and sister duo escalates that peculiarity with Blueberry Boat, a new mode of complex and theatre-inspired transportation that, like Gallowsbird, is a journey from home to hell and back again. Epic tunes of reality and fantasy revolving around childhood, traveling, and ships – their m.o. – swerve between beats and instrumentation like a drunk driver on a test course. From purposefully teeth-gnashing, off-key synths ("Quay Cur") to swinging drums and bouncy piano ("My Dog Was Lost but Now He's Found"), the Friedbergers' dueling vocals mend multiple tracks into lengthy songs that dance across the air and decades building into something just short of heroic. That said, length is where the album fails. If you can get past the 10-minute opener, you're free and clear for a moment, but introducing an album with a ridiculous opus half-written in a foreign (or possibly fantasy) language takes balls. However, when have the Friedbergers ever followed rules? All said, Blueberry Boat is an ingenious trek into the inner crevices of the Furnaces, for better or worse.


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