As part of the Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger was never shy about giving vent to her quirkier impulses. It served the duo well when it came to getting them on the radar, but it stifled their opportunities from there, keeping them from ever blossoming beyond any kind of rarified stature. Happily then, New View finds Friedberger paring back the extraneous elements and focusing more on straight ahead songwriting and a vocal stance that sounds more expressive than ever before. Not that she’s primping herself to be a mainstream star, but if that was her ambition, she’d likely have a better chance to attain that goal than previously.
The major reason for that transition comes via this new set of songs, which is as alluring as it is insightful. “A Long Walk” and “Sweetest Girl” maintain that kaleidoscopic element that infused much of what Fiery Furnaces had to offer, but the persistent pace that drives tracks like “Cathy With the Curly Hair” and “Your Word” shows she has no interest in blurring her designs. The mellower sojourns — “Never Is a Long Time” and “He Didn’t Mention His Mother” — provide more than a hint of immediate accessibility, further reason why she’s suddenly become so overtly engaging. And even when she turns feisty — “Because I Asked You” being the prime example — it’s done with the kind of cockeyed attitude that’s more endearing that perturbing.
Ultimately, New View ought to be the barometer on which all Friedberger’s future efforts will be measured by. It’s an album filled with eleven sensational songs that finds its singer conveying her sentiments with a clarity that could expand her following into wider realms. Not surprisingly then, this New View gives Eleanor Friedberger her brightest outlook yet.