The Fiery Furnaces, Rehearsing My Choir, Rough Trade (2005)

by Stephanie Duncan

It would almost seem that pretension is somewhat meaningless to some folks. Say, the Fiery Furnaces. Sure, most people loved the overly long ‘Blueberry Boat’ but I was not… in that boat! My wit is amazing. Here they are, back at it again, with ‘Rehearsing my Choir’. I love my grandparents a lot but never once did I say, “Hey grandma, let’s do a collaboration piece”. The Fiery Furnaces, brother and sister duo, Matt and Eleanor Friedberger, however decided that this was an awesome idea. I don’t know about the situation or events that led up to this recording but it is mostly a rambling epic pretentious piece of bullshit. Practically unlistenable. It is, supposedly, a bio of their grandmother. It’s almost kind of interesting, I guess.

When my late grandmother was in the nursing home, I found it one of the most depressing places on the earth. Seniors were set up in the various common areas, in wheelchairs, some of them out of it and some of them not. You could sometimes hear moaning for adjoining rooms. This essentially reminds me of those experiences. Not in a positive way, in a negative way. Or maybe it’s more akin to hanging out with those really annoying relatives who just won’t shut the fuck up about themselves, don’t understand that they’re not interesting. Eleanor and her Grandmother’s voices just grate on my nerves. The way their music comes off, how they present themselves. It’s pretentious. They’re not revolutionary. They’re just people fucking around who happened to get a record contract.

I want to write more, in the spirit of meanness. But it’s not fair to continue writing about something I struggled to listen through once, am trying to struggle through a second time but even the third track begins to become unfamiliar territory. Like wandering into a minefield, I don’t want to get any limbs blown off. Don’t try to call this “quirky” or put other labels on it. It’s none of those things! It’s just over-produced and it’s almost a little sad how it sounds like so much work was put into something so damn sub par.

March 2006