Do It to Each Other Like a Sister and a Brother, or Maybe Not

Fiery Furnaces: Who's zoomin' who?
photo: Amy Giunta

Brooklyn-via-Chicago brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces plow through genres, mixing Faulknerian slang, bass-free blues, tumbling piano trills, deconstructed "Crocodile Rock," and giggling British psychedelia into their Mr. Rogers sing-alongs. The single constant? Eleanor Friedberger's stream-of-conscious VU-drollery about piercing ears with office supplies, gobbling a hundred-something doughnuts for lunch, and guzzling rubbing alcohol.

Conjure a sunny Royal Trux more hung up on Beefheart than Stones. But first pay Jennifer Herrema a ten-spot to dress up as Chrissie Hynde, and ask Neil Hagerty to surrender rock purity for Blue Velvet bird sounds, fuzz synth, and a parlor ditty about rum, Cracker Barrel, and mommy.

Coming-of-age liner notes explaining Matthew's attempt to start a band sans cheeky sis drop enough rough-stuff innuendo about stabbings in the basement that the sauntering collaboration at times evokes an inbred pubescent beast-with-two-backs. Sick! Still, the chemistry outdoes icy Jack and Meg White. And no matter who's zoomin' who, Gallowsbird's Bark is an often compulsive non sequitur, a dorky musical Elton John might've jotted down after regretting his part in Aida.


Fiery Furnaces
Gallowsbird's Bark
Rough Trade

Fiery Furnaces play Mercury Lounge November 22.

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