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Fiery Furnace-member's
sunny solo effort

Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer
(Merge Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 11, 2011
Eleanor Friedberger

Review by Tony Bonyata

Eleanor Friedberger is moonlighting from her day-job with The Fiery Furnaces (the Brooklyn-based indie duo she formed a decade ago with her older brother Matthew Friedberger) for her first solo effort, aptly titled Last Summer. On these 10 songs, all written this time last year, the Oak Park, IL native breaks from the quirky grit of The Fiery Furnaces in favor of songs that lean more towards the pop side of things, while still retaining a bit of her left-field, indie-rock eccentricities. It's a sound-shift that should also appeal to an even broader audience - much in the same way indie songbird Leslie Feist tapped into a wider, and decidedly more mature audience with her breakthrough 2007 solo effort The Reminder away from her band Broken Social Scene.

Last Summer kicks off with the sunny, inescapable pop of "My Mistakes," which, if marketed properly, could no doubt give the L.A. indie popsters Foster The People's track "Pumped Up Kicks" a run for its money as the defining song of this summer. Admittedly, the rest of the album rarely reaches the heights of "My Mistakes," but there are still enough interesting moments throughout, such as the spry and uplifting numbers "Heaven" and "I Won't Fall Apart On You Tonight," as well as the rubbery disco-pop of "Roosevelt Island" and the lovely, introspective nature of "Scenes from Bensonhurst" and the gentle balladry of "One-Month Marathon."

There are a couple of lesser tracks featured, such as "Inn of the Seventh Ray" and 'Glitter Gold Year," which tend to plod, but thankfully there are enough pop-pleasantries here to make this a worthwhile, if not altogether essential, solo outing.

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