You’ve been a Fiery Furnaces fan for a long time now, and in the process you’ve endured a lot of criticism and burned through a good chunk of change. You were there at their genesis, falling in love with the Friedberger siblings the moment Gallowsbird’s Bark arrived, dodging a hail of insults from friends that compared them to The White Stripes. Now The White Stripes are dead, your friends are buying glow-in-the-dark records from Third Man without owning turntables, and The Fiery Furnaces live/rock on. You remember with bittersweet joy the day that the Pitchfork hive mind praised Blueberry Boat, and you try to forget the day they lashed out against the brilliant Rehearsing My Choir.
Many fans ended their journey here, spooked by a lack of critical consensus, but you soldiered on, wading through the noisy, difficult, frenzied-yet-melancholy Bitter Tea, and for this you were rewarded with a trip to the gilded gates of Classic Rawk in Widow City. You’re still on the fence about the slightly lackadaisical I’m Going Away, but you haven’t had a lot of time to let it sink in since there were the two Matthew Friedberger solo albums to digest, then the self-covering Take Me Round Again, then eight more albums from Matthew… even you, superfan, are starting to fall behind.
But that’s just too bad, buddy, because here comes another one: Last Summer, the debut solo album from Eleanor Friedberger, hits store shelves (that are already buckling under the weight of Furnaces product) on July 12 via Merge. Merge is best known as the label that puts out albums by Butterglory. Apparently, after Eleanor recorded her renditions for Take Me Round Again, she enjoyed the time away from Matthew so much that she went ahead and fleshed out a group of songs written over the years that had never made it on a Furnaces album. You can listen to the lead single off Last Summer, “My Mistakes,” over at the Chocolate Grinder, where you may notice that the backing music only sounds like one overclocked carnival ride rather than several, which suits her singing approach quite nicely. Eleanor has plans to tour in support of Last Summer, but we’re too busy catching up on Matthew’s last two albums to get those confirmed yet.
Start saving your money, superfan, because along with the “rock album” the band’s been working on, I’ve heard rumors that the Furnaces’ session drummer has a bi-weekly subscription series planned for 2012. (Just kidding, people who get angry at jokes.)