Eleanor Friedberger

New View

Frenchkiss

Jan 11, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


At first glance, the titles of Eleanor Friedberger's first two solo records provide context for her clever, knotted lyrics and oddball pop melodies.

Personal Record looked back further than the debut, Last Summer, which explored sun-spotted days in her then-home of Brooklyn, New York. Standouts on the second record such as "When I Knew" found the universal in personal detailsteenage musical discovery and confusing new friendships. But with Friedberger, nothing is quite that straightforward. Personal Record was a songwriting collaboration with singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding, meaning the title was a nice bit of misdirection. As she said in an interview at the time, "Am I singing about myself, or am I singing about another woman?.... I like the mystery around it."

The title of her latest record, New View, similarly references a time and placeher recent move from Brooklyn to upstate New York. And like Personal Record, the songs explore relationships in a mix of first-, second-, and third-person perspective, adding a similar level of ambiguity. When she implores the "Sweetest Girl" with a broken heart to "stop crying so that I won't start," and then adds "the sky's red/and so are your eyes," it's easy to imagine the song is really about herself.

The former Fiery Furnaces singer's new home comes across more straight-forward musically. She's left behind the indie-pop production of her solo debut, further building on the twang hinted at on Personal Record. Warm guitar and melted Wurlitzer electric piano help Friedberger's songs breathe and stretch into occasional instrumental bridges and codas. It's a more subdued record in general, with the exception of the sudden bursts of Crazy Horse-like guitar stabs. She's also less compelled towards barrages of sing-speak lyrics than she was in the past, letting her alto deliver what might be her most even album to date. (www.eleanorfriedberger.com)

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