The Fiery Furnaces 

Blueberry Boat

As if to capitalize on the current resurgence of pirates (the real ones with patches, parrots, and whatnot -- not the digital pirates currently bringing down the music industry one Chingy mp3 at a time), here come the Fiery Furnaces with their second album, Blueberry Boat. The title track is all about ports, decks, mates, and a group of pirates out to get the Furnaces' coveted blueberries. Not that you can really grab ahold of the narrative here, as both Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger (siblings, not spouses) are spitting out lyrics so quickly and unrelentingly that all you can really grab hold of are alliterative fragments, e.g. Later at lunch with the taco lettuce crunch-crunch. It's a key factor to the group's confusing and brilliant sophomore effort, and the Furnaces almost seem aware of this, as the lyrics often degenerate into mere phonetics and syllables. Not that they're scatting like Ella Fitzgerald or anything -- it's just that they've found another way to twist and convolute their music into something even stranger and more daring.

The duo's debut, Gallowsbird Bark, was fantastic, taking a slinky, back-alley approach to the dirty blues and funneling it through surreal lyrical rhetoric and all sorts of rolling piano bits stolen straight from an old-time music hall. Sure, you could sing along, but who knows what the hell they were talking about? Blueberry Boat, meanwhile, is like thirteen copies of Gallowsbird Bark -- one for each song. Most of Boat's tracks average between eight and ten minutes long, but each contains about ten more little songs that are bridged, vamped, revamped, and linked together like some sort of dizzying take on the Who's A Quick One. Add in the group's increased use of crunchy, theatrical, antiquated synthesizers, and you're talking sensory overload. If it's pop songs you want, look elsewhere. As for seafaring, sci-fi post-punk epics with no logical progression and more tunes in one song than most people have in a career, this album seriously delivers the goods.


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