Eleanor Friedberger: Last Summer


On her debut solo album, Eleanor Friedberger branches out from The Fiery Furnaces to make something that is consistent, catchy and cool all at once. If the opener “My Mistakes” – which sounds like an early Rosanne Cash fronting The New Pornographers – doesn’t have you moving in your chair, seek help. But she then brings things down to a crawl with the deliberate “Inn Of The Seventh Ray” with a spacey echo accenting the tune.

Friedberger knows a pop melody when she hears on, and unlike others who believe it’s essential to add things to something excellent, she leaves it alone, resulting in stellar, hands-off nuggets like the sugary and heavenly “Heaven” complete with handclaps and a repetitive Beatles-like turn with horns. And while it’s a bit airy in some spots, the payoff is nothing short of brilliant on the punchy, 70’s infused “Roosevelt Island” with its funk-tinged feel as she draws a nifty vignette of stepping outside into the sunshine.

Although there are several highlights and a filler tune is non-existent on the record, “One-Month Marathon” might be the real charmer, still having a slight pop pulse but finding its groove as Friedberger revisits old memories of childhood as a backbeat is heard slightly in the distance. However, just when one thinks it’s going off into Sullenville, she grabs you by the scruff of the neck and gets you swaying or head-bobbing on the joyful “I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight.”

The closing tenth track (yes, I wish it was longer too!) is “Early Earthquake” which comes across just as bouncy and bubbly as “My Mistakes.” Guess it’s time to hit the repeat button again. And again.

Eleanor Friedberger – My Mistakes from Merge Records on Vimeo.

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