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CD REVIEW: Eleanor Friedberger's Last Summer



THE DEAL: Eleanor Friedberger delivers the pop LP the Fiery Furnaces won't.

THE GOOD: For those who didn't drink the Blueberry Boat Kool-Aid when the Fiery Furnaces broke in 2004, Friedberger siblings Matthew and Eleanor have always been more promising than fulfilling: If only they could just sit stylistically still for a friggin' minute. But now it's sister Eleanor, the beating heart of the FFs, who's put together an album's worth of accessible summer ditties. Like an attic-stored box of fading snapshots, the songs conjure New York City-past in their everyday imagery — a vibe heightened by the piano pop, wonky synths and early FM melodies of the pre-punk '70s. Eleanor still makes interesting choices throughout: There's the in-your-face bass that drives "Scenes From Bensonhurst" before spiraling off into noise washes; the jaunty '70s-Stevie Wonder synths that make "Roosevelt Island" as fun as the tram ride over the East River; and the dreamy story-song "Owl's Head Park," whose overlapping vocal lines and synths couch open space that mimics the titular "city nook" status. But the buzz comes most from the straight-ahead pop, like "My Mistakes," which is early-'70s Roxy Music with a classic hook at its core, or "I Won't Fall Apart On You Tonight," whose stacked keys and resilience-over-doomed-love theme suggest Fleetwood Mac in Phil Spector's studio.

THE BAD: Friedberger's narratives are a rush of Beatnik-patter that matches the city's human thrum to a tee. But on the record's two least accessible cuts ("Glitter Gold Year" and "Inn of the Seventh Ray"), the sing-talk is less effective.

THE VERDICT: A summer soundtrack to an "F" train ride, a hot dog at Coney Island and waiting for "the man."

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