Eleanor Friedberger: New View
Eleanor Friedberger, one half of The Fiery Furnaces, sounds more grown-up on her latest album New View than perhaps ever before. Despite its name, New View can hardly be considered new from a musical perspective: the tracks are quite simple and unsurprising, bearing many similarities to the likes of Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Still, the album manages to retain Friedberger's wit and originality.
Typically, the album is lyrically intriguing with interestingly specific storylines and attention to detail, a hallmark of Friedberger. It is these details as well as her tone of voice that ensure the album feels both consoling and accepting, even when narrating stories of loneliness.
Despite its general mood of being content and at ease, loneliness does seem to be a recurring feature on New View. Especially visible in 'Open Season', the narrator asks questions that reveal they haven't seen the person they are speaking to for a long time: “Have you seen the movie yet?...Did it make you think of me? // Is it freezing over there?”, eventually admitting to the state of things: “I may be over in the spring / to do a little spring cleaning / I don't know where you are”. Again, this atmosphere and emotion is conveyed brilliantly in the repeated lyric “I could always stay for more / I would always stay for more” in 'Two Versions of Tomorrow'.
Yet while the lyrics to 'Open Season' are intriguing and some of the best ones on the album, New View seems to start off slowly, only getting more interesting after the first few songs.
The highlights come halfway through; 'Never is a Long Time', while referencing Dylan – or even responding to his claim of tomorrow being a long time - verges more on Elliott Smith -like melancholy, completed with vocals unusually low for Friedberger. This is followed by 'Cathy with the Curly Hair', the album's other opposite: clever, fun and confident, the song echoes Friedberger's Personal Record.
Overall though, New View doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by her previous albums: there would have been room for more surprise. Still, while there is nothing groundbreaking about New View, Eleanor Friedberger masters the art of basic so well that there is little you would change in the end.