Bitter Tea - Fiery Furnaces
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A new Fiery Furnaces album is a wonderful thing. The Fiery Furnaces, a brother-sister duo hailing from Chicago and now ensconced in New York City, are true chameleons. They’re playful, twisted, adventurous, entertaining, daring and completely unique. Listening to a Fiery Furnaces record, with its elaborate lyrical themes, musical twists and intricate production, is a special experience. Gorgeous melodies give way to Matthew Friedberger’s solemn piano solos or creepy synthesizers only to reappear later at the most perfect moment. Their signature is their broad spectrum of influences, epic sonic excursions, wandering narratives and Eleanor Friedberger’s striking vocals.
“Bitter Tea” was recorded at the same time as “Rehearsing My Choir”, the album that was made with their 82 year old grandmother sharing vocal duties with granddaughter Eleanor, and one which tracked the story of her life in a series of inventive vignettes. That album, with all of its frenetic twists and turns, managed to bring the Furnaces to an even wider mainstream audience. “Bitter Tea”, however,
has an even wider appeal. Or, as Matt has put it: “Bitter Tea is a very girly record. The granddaughter record, as opposed to the grandmother record.” The Friedbergers describe this album as “Sissy Psychedelic Satanism”. It’s also a return to a fuller, more band-oriented sound. There are real drums and some bone fide killer pop songs, such as “Police Sweater Blood Vow”, “Waiting To Know You” and “Benton Harbour Blues”. The album’s melodies further a Furnaces aesthetic of push and pull in a more concise manner than ever before and, again, there’s a story lurking in the grooves. These songs ask that you listen in a little closer than before. Eleanor’s voice, a rare presence on the last record, is centre stage here; a matter-of-fact sound that expresses some of the most realised elements of sadness ever heard on a Fiery Furnaces album.
Matt Friedberger says he believes his little sister to be “The finest lady vocalist in Rock-n-Roll for the past twenty-five years”. She may well be.
- In My Little Thatched Hut
- I'm In No Mood
- Darling Black Hearted Boy
- Bitter Tea
- Teach Me Sweetheart
- Waiting To Know You
- Vietnamese Telephone Ministry
- Oh Sweet Woods
- Police Sweater Blood Vow
- Benton Harbour Blues
- Whistle Rhapsody
- Hidden Track