The Fiery Furnaces

FILE UNDER: INDIE POP, CONFUSE AND AMUSE

The Fiery Furnaces

Blueberry Boat

Rough Trade/Sanctuary

Gallowsbird's Bark, the debut album from other brother-sister duo the Fiery Furnaces, simultaneously screamed shtick and invoked intrigue with its deliriously off-kilter backwoods bayou stomp, and Blueberry Boat follows on the deranged heels of its predecessor, holding on to the former's charm but drastically upping the creative ante. Opener "Quay Cur" bridges electro-stomp and barroom blues; "1917" puts brother Matthew Friedberger free-versing over tremolo synth and dissonant guitar; the organ-driven title track sounds like a Carnival Cruise gone queasily wrong. But if the musical landscape on Boat is vaster and stranger than Bark, the common ground teeters on the duo's quirky lyricism, especially as heard through sister Eleanor's intriguing tenor. "Birdie Brain," a dopey jaunt anchored by echo-y keys, proves she just wasn't made for these times: "I'll jump in the undertow penguin paddle/And drown in my wedding gown." Elsewhere, "Spaniolated" tells a dark tale of kidnapping through a child's eyes, a song only slightly more Lemony Snicket than Lewis Carroll: "He put me in the hole of his old rusty crawler/And fed me three pills a day to keep me from getting taller." The Furnaces haven't yet got their heads up their own rabbit hole—unlike such other-worlders as Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum, they gaze at never-never land from a distance—and their rock & roll nonsense blooms not from pathology, but delight. For now, they're content to amuse, if not bewilder.
 
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