Fast, furious and fiery

Keri Carlson

Eleanor Friedberger has an out-of-breath style of singing. The lead singer in the New York-based experimental indie rock brother-sister duo the Fiery Furnaces sounds like she’s racing each song to finish all the lyrics first, before the music ends.

This creates a singing style that’s closer to a melodious rap or spoken word. Though the music genre is vastly different, Friedberger’s singing style is akin to Beyonce rapidly roaring through “Survivor.”

It’s not that Eleanor can’t sing more harmoniously, but if she did, there might not be enough room for all of the Fiery Furnaces’ words.

“Blueberry Boat” is an epic. An album that plays like a novel, it wanders through a stream of consciousness in the form of beat poetry.

The opening song “Quay Cur” begins with the tale of how Friedberger lost her silver charm and now she’ll never feel safe again. From here, the album follows Friedberger to the “Street they call Straight,” a boat full of pirates, a search for her lost dog and many more places that blur reality and fiction.

The tales spun on “Blueberry Boat” often take on a dreaming-child perspective. Yet there’s a very distinct coldness so that the narratives use fantasy in a way that serves to ease the harshness of the world. “Birdie Brain” uses a Dr. Seuss charm but with a nightmarish twist when Eleanor sings, “I hate the stream train that whistles woozy my bird brain/ that sends my spaniel insane/ And I’ll stop riding side saddle if they don’t stop the clickity clattle/ I’ll jump in the undertow penguin paddle and drown in my wedding gown.”

Matthew Friedberger crafts a musical backdrop which matches the words.

Like the lyrics, the music ranges from noisy muddle to shimmering melodies provided by sporadically plucked pianos, drum machines and a wonky blues guitar.

Though “Blueberry Boat” is packed with words and very few choruses in 76 minutes, the multi-layered music that quickly twists and turns along with Eleanor Friedberger’s journeys never let the album grow sluggish. The Fiery Furnaces have written a musical page turner.