Eleanor Friedberger has spent the large majority of her musical career known as half of musical group The Fiery Furnaces. Teamed up with her brother Mathew the duo's music was a mix of indie rock and psychedelic cynicism. In may of 2011 they both decided to put the band on hiatus so they could peruse their separate musical paths.
New View is the third release from this beautiful songbird. Having left the hustle and bustle of New York City, Friedberger moved up-state to record the album out of a converted barn and what was produced was a free flowing album, no hint of the anxiety and stress of living life in the city. Eleanor has traded in the indie sound and gone for more of a 70’s pop reminiscent of the late George Harrison.
One of the key components of the album is Friedberger's storytelling. At times it is autobiographical and at other time like a PSA announcement to young women warning them against getting their hearts broken. Eleanor’s vocals are a low husky alto and she immediately sounds androgynous. This gives a uniquely individual experience and yet one that is universal at the same time.
Opening track "He Didn’t Mention His Mother" begins with a tape looping back setting the scene as we reminisce of someone held dear. It’s a warm and cosy recollection of time gone by. It feels like we’re sitting on a couch and flicking through a photo album with her.
"Open Season" is a witty tune playing on the double meaning. In one instant it’s a no restrictions attack on a failed relationship. Open to criticism, Eleanor directs the conversation to her lover about how things just aren’t working with lines like “Well we got a place together, that was never my address” and “twenty-five-thousand reasons and all you needed was one." Her frustration at the situation and perhaps distance leads her to having to kill the relationship. Set to dreamy guitar lines and a simple drum beat. it is pure gold.
One of the finest tracks on New View would have to be "Cathy With The Curly Hair". It’s largely throw back to 60's bubble gum pop. It’s an ode to the girl that’s caught your eye and heart. It’s the type song that makes you want to dance around your house while singing along to the ohhs and the ahhs.
Another is "Two Versions of Tomorrow." It’s about the fight of wanting a relationship and yet knowing that it’s no good for you. It’s a volatile relationship that over before it’s even began. “What you want is what your hated, things don’t work out in the end,” and yet the sad realisation is that sometimes you just cant let go. The music on this track is strongly symbolic for the relationship. It’s a instrumental rollercoaster as the guitar dances around in a muted lick in conjuction with a grounded base line and a haunting Wurlitzer organ before soaring into an intergalactic guitar solo.
There are so many artists, both male and female, to whom Eleanor Friedberger could be compared. She has the vocals of a Lindsey Buckingham or Elvis Costello, with the folk story telling abilities of Bob Dylan or Suzanne Vega. No matter who, she is comparable to great artists. This album is fantastic and with every listen to it you fall that little more in love with it.
New View is out now on CD, vinyl and digital formats.