the Fiery Furnaces

Bitter Tea (Fat Possum)

Phases and Stages

the Fiery Furnaces

Bitter Tea (Fat Possum)

The Fiery Furnaces have changed, and it's not you, it's them. So prepare yourself, because Bitter Tea isn't – deep breath now – Blueberry Boat, and we can most likely just stop hoping for another one. Instead, the Brooklyn-based sibling duo continues its experimentation with electronics; anyone turned off by last year's octogenarian opera Rehearsing My Choir, recorded at the same time as Bitter Tea, will find little solace here. Guitars are mostly gone from this Friedberger affair; Matthew does keys, Eleanor sings, and drum beats provide the foundation. Once again there's a tenuous storyline running through Eleanor's rapid-fire lyrics. On the swoon-pop of "Black-Hearted Boy" she sings, "All the color's gone out of my ribbon loom, as I've only got the worst to assume." Contrast that with "I'm waiting to know you, far away; send up a balloon says write to me soon," from the pretty doo-wop bounce of "I'm Waiting to Know You." It's a frustrating listen nevertheless; vocals run backward for entire songs, and "Borneo" and "Nevers" stretch and stretch and ... you have to wipe the drool from your mouth. Is this the breakup album? Maybe we should see other bands? It's just not working out.


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