The Fiery Furnaces’s new album “Take Me Round Again” is a testament to refinement — a deliciously simple collection evocative of the first album by Matt and Eleanor Friedberger, “Gallowsbird’s Peak.”
After years of avant-garde experimentation — including tape loops, psychedelic keyboard squelches and narraton by their grandmother for the entirety of “Rehearsing My Choir,” Matt and Eleanor Friedberger have unleashed a catchy, folksy album that retains the depth and romantic disillusion which characterizes their earlier works. In “Take Me Round Again,” the pair reworks songs from their album “I’m Going Away,” released in August, using a pleasantly rural edge to create music of striking honesty.
The album begins with back-to-back renditions of “I’m Going Away,” performed first in Matt’s deep, soulful voice, then in Eleanor’s profoundly direct, yet sing-song style. In “Keep Me in the Dark” and “Even in the Rain,” Eleanor’s disenchanting lyrics shine, as detached, hopeless observations of romance. “Cup + Punches” and “Take Me Round Again” attest to the yearning for an older, quasi-fantasy time period, a place of peach leaves and old movie theaters. Having reworked this album separately, Matt and Eleanor emerged in and broadcast their own distinct styles. Eleanor’s quiet, down-to-earth acoustic folk guitar is beautifully gripping. Matt tunes down the harsher rock elements of “I’m Going Away,” revealing a poignant depth with expressive piano — though he returns to synthetic experimentation with the rendition of “Drive to Dallas.”
“Take Me Round Again” proves that simplicity is profound, with power in the slight jarring mesh of guitar and piano in “Cut the Cake,” and jagged memory lyrics recalling a time that may or may not have existed. I’ve always loved The Fiery Furnaces for their ability to innovate and for revealing each piece of their creative process in ways that are usually extreme, but always pleasurable. This album is no different. It’s like a slice of summer in a fleeting and erotic second.