More Fiery Furnace–Derived, Potentially Exhausting Weirdness

You can't accuse the Fiery Furnaces of being lazy. Here's the third and fourth records we've heard from Matthew Friedberger in 10 months, this time two packaged-together solo albums so sister Eleanor can sit at home and watch Nick at Nite reruns. No running concepts (or grandmothers, thankfully) unify these 29 cuts, but motifs do seep in—he still likes the organ, as well as the whole schizophrenic song-cutting style that exhilarates fans and makes foes want to die. Winter Women is his attempt at a more "pop" sound, but that's mostly overshadowed by the conversational style of "singing" he employs throughout. As for its twin, the dark, funked-out "Do You Like Blondes?" hints at an ability to assimilate into coherency, but good luck understanding the more conceptual Holy Ghost Language School's running narrative. Without Sis, Matthew still does just fine, but let's be honest: You know the style by now, and despite a slightly more electro feel here, you're still left wondering if the whole "I make erratic high art for art's sake" gambit gets a bit shticky when there gets to be so much of it.

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