Rhythm & Views

Fiery Furnaces

EPs are supposed to be short, maybe five songs at most, a kind of mini-album. The Fiery Furnaces, though, have a different definition of an EP. This one, for example, is 10 songs long, enough to be a full-fledged album. It hints at some of the songs on their other two records, and even totally rethinks one, but this is the Fiery Furnaces' gimmick. They write a song; they put to tape a version of it; and then every time they play live, they re-create all of their songs simultaneously, mixing lyrics and melodies together to make one big medley. The Fiery Furnaces are not deconstructionists; they are reconstructionists.

EP is more of a reconstruction of Magical Mystery Tour and the end of Abbey Road than their previous albums, Blueberry Boat and Gallowsbird's Bark; "Cousin Chris," toward the end of EP, is even charactered by people like Barnacle Bill and Fireman Frank. Brother and sister Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger play with instrumentations and arrangements, even speeding up Eleanor's vocals on "Sullivan Social Club" so that she sounds like she's 5 years old. "Tropical-Iceland," from Gallowsbird's Bark, is here with a sped-up guitar and organ--none of the slow tweety-bird sweetness of the version on Gallowsbird's. "Duffer St. George" goes from silent-film piano to organ to distorted guitar rawk in 30 seconds. The band's Who and '70s rock influences shine through on "Here Comes the Summer" and "Sweet Spots." "Smelling Cigarettes" is a short story about drinking a little too much and a billboard truck that seems to run over people's feet a little too often; most of the songs, actually, are about drinking a little too much, and the surreal things that just seem to happen when you're floating in a lake of liquor.

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