Eleanor Friedberger | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Eleanor Friedberger Soundboard

When: Wed., July 20, 8 p.m. 2011

Eleanor Friedberger sets aside the dizzying complexity and density of Fiery Furnaces in favor of something simpler and more direct on her terrific new solo debut, Last Summer (Merge). These undeniably catchy songs read like diary entries, often evoking failed and failing relationships (or possibly several stages of the same one) with vivid, place-specific memories: “I brought my camera and I have a shot of us / You and that guy who died down in Philly / On the beach / The Cyclone made you sick,” she sings on “Roosevelt Island.” The tone is generally melancholy, even when it’s hard to tell where the sadness is coming from, but Friedberger matches her sweetly nostalgic lyrics with hooks that sound customized for outdoor summer listening, from the graceful, pretty melody of “Heaven” to the brisk bounce of “Early Earthquake.” There are plenty of ear-catching instrumental flourishes—the neo-70s saxophone solo on “My Mistakes,” the nifty clavinet line that flows through “Roosevelt Island”—but the lean arrangements seem to exist mostly to set up Friedberger’s distinctive phrasing. She races through certain words and elongates others—holding notes, dropping them, adding extra syllables—with a clipped, authoritative delivery and a nonchalantly plush timbre that recalls Debbie Harry. —Peter Margasak

Price: $5

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