The Fiery Furnaces, Widow City

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Widow City

The Fiery Furnaces

On their sixth album, art-pop siblings Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger are still wriggling and squirming to escape the confines of their innate gifts for narrative and melody — and the results are still a delight. Hardly does a tune begin to wend its simple way forward before the Friedbergers have orchestrated a collision with some equally memorable hook or deconstructed their newborn composition with a detour into twitchy math-rock; rarely does a straightforward lyric blossom into a fully told story before Eleanor intervenes with what sounds like a dadaist late-breaking news announcement such as "A special commission of basketball coaches and blind ladies."

Art-pop siblings continue to wriggle against the confines of their innate gifts for narrative and melody

At seven minutes plus, opener "The Philadelphia Grand Jury" is everything playful and ponderous about the Fiery Furnaces mashed together: the line "Make sure that they notarize my will" acts as a lyrical hook, then there's a tabla-and-synth-bassoon break, not to mention hooks galore. But the real standout is "Ex-Guru" which has such an incredible chorus that the "God Only Knows" keyboards, the woodwinds and the tricked-up drum syncopation only serve to highlight it.