The Fiery Furnaces
Listening to The Fiery Furnaces’ Widow City is like glimpsing the inner workings of a beehive. Worker bees buzz around, crossing paths. Some days are calm while disaster strikes on others. The queen bee is Eleanor Friedberger, making all the calls along with her brother Matthew. The tempo of Eleanor’s voice alters between spoken word and short melodic stanzas. At times, the band’s interpretation of indie rock sounds mechanical yet remains charming. Each of the 16 songs on the band’s fifth full-length is a tumultuous story, linking to the next track. The instrumentation is stunning. Grinding and ghostly guitars intertwine with angelic harps, flutes and pianos. Moods change as fast as bees change their flight. Songs like “Navy Nurse”—at 6 1/2 minutes long—sound schizophrenic, and reflect society’s habit of multitasking. Listeners may be turned off by the band’s stop-and-go tempos, but this is a great album for those who like to wander off into the world of experimental art. “Widow City” leaves the lasting sting of a bee, but it is a sweet sting.