Fiery Furnaces
Bitter Tea
The Fiery Furnaces have not quite built their following and reputation on a foundation of accessibility. After packing two undeniably unique, off-kilter albums full to the brimming with explosions of ideas and often minimally-related musical segments that worked as often as they didn’t and in the end were, depending on your point of view, either genius or unbelievably annoying, the brother-sister duo of Matthew and Ellen Friedberger managed to make even those LPs seem conventional with the release of last year’s Rehearsing My Choir. The album extensively featured their grandmother, Olga Sarantos, contrasting her spoken alto narrations with her granddaughter’s youthful, hopeful singing to build an ambitious, at times almost impenetrable concept album that told the story of a life in a wonderfully new way. Enter 2006’s Bitter Tea, recorded at the same time as Rehearsing My Choir, and, so they claim, their most accessible work to date. It very well may be, but it’s a testament to the Furnaces that even so it’s still far from the light exercise in synth-pop they may make it seem.

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