Release Date: Apr 18, 2006
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
This is their fifth full-length album in three years, making the Fiery Furnaces the hardest-working eccentrics in indie-rock - not just in productivity, but in the inventiveness and density of the private code in which Chicago siblings Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger write their songs. Although the Velvet Underground created the blueprint for the Furnaces' style 40 years ago - a child prodigy's lyrical eye and unschooled melodic ear, sung-spoken vocals, savage electric guitar outbursts - they never got their granny in to sing, as the Furnaces did on last year's Rehearsing My Choir. So how do they follow that? By going back to the dawn of the synthesizer era and psychedelic backwards-taping, among many other textural effects, some eerie, others charmingly silly.
Of course, part of the Fiery Furnaces' appeal from the beginning has been the way they screw with what could be very simple, almost ditty-like songs. However, on Bitter Tea the ways that they mess with their music aren't always as intriguing or memorable as what the songs could've been like if they were eccentric yet concise in the way that, say, Gallowsbird's Bark was. At times, the album feels oddly diluted, neither as strikingly experimental as Blueberry Boat or Rehearsing My Choir, nor as brilliantly catchy as their debut.