The Friedbergers—the arch, Tenenbaums-esque brother-and-sister duo—are back with a very good seventh album.
If you've ever been on the fence about the band's experimental excess, but enjoyed their more-cohesive moments, you'll be pleased by I'm Going Away. It's a listener-friendly album that doesn't stretch the limits of credulity like Blueberry Boat's abstractions or the spoken-word strangeness of 2005's Rehearsing My Choir.
Here, the band simply delivers the goods: ramshackle prog-pop that affects a tone both effectively summer-y and creepy. It's a weird emotional cue that few other bands manage to strike, but the Furnaces have mastered it.
As evidence, I'll refer you to tracks like "Staring at the Steeple," with its pyrotechnic drumming and spook-house organ riffs, and the kitschy shuffle-beat on "Charmaine Champagne." "Ray Bouvier" has all the wistful triumph of an end-of-high-school film's prom sequence, when the romantic leads share a dance before the credits roll.
"Lost at Sea" is the album's gentlest moment, with Eleanor cooing "Baby I'm ... / Maybe I'm not me." That lyrical ellipsis delivers all of the inherent drama one might expect, and reminds us how sophisticated the Furnaces have become at staging that drama by using what is left out. It's a reminder that the band is capable of restraint and subtlety—a nice counterpoint to their beatnik, stream-of-consciousness tendency to overload songs with language. That's still in evidence on I'm Going Away, but it's less off-putting now that we've seen them strike so many varying poses.