November 22, 2010

The Fiery Furnaces – Blueberry Boat
experimental-rock, progressive-pop

I love the kind of densely layered albums that reward repeat listening and perseverance with exciting new discoveries and previously unnoticed subtleties, albums that just seem to go deeper and deeper the further you dig. When it comes to that kind of product, Blueberry Boat is quite simply the proverbial bottomless pit of all albums released during the 2000s. The Fiery Furnaces showed plenty of creative spark on their debut, but nothing whatsoever could have prepared listeners for what was coming next. This The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boatrabbit hole of an album overflows with more musical concepts, quirks and ideas than many people can keep up with (and it has the divisive critical response to prove it!), demanding multiple plays just to absorb what’s resting on the surface. For the patient and attentive listener, though, there’s just so much with which to fall in love. Matt and Eleanor Freidberger inject their songs with such a degree of creativity and relentless boundary-pushing that uniquely fascinating and surprising moments seem to be hiding around every corner – “Quay Cur” features nursery-rhyme tales punctured by stabs of short-burst garage-rock; “My Dog Was Lost But Now He’s Found”, in addition to playing out as an extended pun itself, features a lyrical gag followed by an almost too-subtle “boom boom” in the background; the massive guitar solo hiding one minute into “Mason City” feels like lost treasure; the chaotic introduction to “Wolf Notes” sounds like it’s raining musical instruments; “Straight Street” features the same melody throughout, but on every verse the instrumentation being used it subtly altered from the one before it; the narrative song “Chief Inspector Blancheflower” has enough content that an entire movie could be made of it; “Birdie Brain’s” warbling, wah-wah melody is one of the most creative riffs you’ll ever hear; and the title track’s tale of pirates invading a boat to steal its precious blue cargo, only to be confronted by a resilient captain Eleanor, is way better than any children’s story, and it’s catchy too. There’s so much more, but I don’t want to reveal all the surprises that lie within Blueberry Boat. They’re scattered throughout the album so generously that it’ll take the average listener ten plays to come close to catching them all. The best part is, it’ll then take dozens more listens to satisfy the insatiable urge to hear them over and over again.


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