Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away

by Rich Morris Rating:10 Release Date:

Having worked their way through bright-eyed pop, primal blues and spoken word experimentation, the Friedberger siblings returned rocking an uncomplicated and joyful sound on their seventh album. I'm Going Away swings with the kind of broken-down, blue-eyed country soul which has almost been erased from modern pop but which was once a root source tapped into by (most obviously) The Rolling Stones, but also Lou Reed, Patti Smith and David Bowie. In fact, much of the album recalls the wry bonhomie of Reed's Bowie-produced glam classic Transformer as well as the pawn shop torch songs Bowie perfected on his own break-through, Hunky Dory.

Thematically, the album takes a road trip into a swampy, saucy Americana, switching between rip-and-burn thrill seeking and booze-sodden laments for what has been left behind. The title track, which opens proceedings, is a grunged-up hillbilly jig celebrating highway freedom and responsibilities shirked. 'Charmaine Champagne' is a rambunctious ode to a sangria loving lady who's "always singing the squarest thing on the jukebox". Both are exhilarating, instantly hummable examples of barroom boogie which never once conjure the dread spectre of Status Quo. The flip of the coin is shown by the quite desperation of down-at-heel ballad 'The End is Near', the strung-out soul of 'Cut the Cake' and the cranky, sleep-deprived 'Drive to Dallas' on which singer Eleanor sighs "If I see you tomorrow/ I don't know what I will do" with perfectly pitched resignation.

Madness and violence frequently stalk the fringes of the Fiery Furnaces' world, appearing in the guise of grotesque, old timey Southern Gothic spectres. 'Staring at the Steeple' features two lady preachers, but the image of them is a far from peaceful one: "One keeps time while the other keeps her pistol," spits Eleanor over pungent, swamp gas blues.

The band's art-rock instincts are still active - check out the way penultimate track 'Cups & Punches' oscillates into the ether - but what impresses about I'm Going Home is how sweetly, loveably human it is, how it celebrates the sad times as much as the good with deprecating humour and gentle bravery. I'm Going Home is like a warming shot of liquor on a cold day - not always wise, but welcome.

Best tracks: 'The End is Near', 'Charmaine Champagne', 'Cut the Cake'

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