“I’m Going Away” by The Fiery Furnaces

As I mentioned in my past articles about the band, The Fiery Furnaces have a reputation for long, sprawling stories wrapped up in an intense psychedelic blues rock shell. The brother-sister duo also experimented with an even less organic sound with their album Bitter Tea, which was overflowing with electronic bleeps and bloops coming from every angle and using backmasking as an instrument as well as a story element. They are notoriously difficult for listeners to get into, but many a fan remembers their debut album Gallowsbird’s Bark. Gallowsbird’s was an accessible and entertaining garage blues introduction, some elements of which remain with the band to this day. Starting with their previous album Widow City, the band has made strides to move back into a more digestible sound.

I’m Going Away continues the strip-down of the band’s more difficult elements to bring listeners a much more pure experience. From the frantic opening title track to slower paced tracks like “Staring at the Steeple”, each song sounds like The Fiery Furnaces and you almost expect the songs to explode into a frenzy at any moment. Even the lyrics tone themselves down a bit, but are still filled with the trademark wackiness and wit that fans adore. The sound has also been simplified and remains in a similar tone from song to song. The drums sound like a kit that has been left in the attic for a few decades. The guitar squeaks and squawks rather than shreds. The bass is dulled and lumbers around in the background like a sleepy giant. The piano that appears a few times is very sorrowful and aged like a whiskey.

All of the elements come together to form a recognizable sound to fans, but won’t overpower the new listener with too much coming at them at once. There’s an atmosphere that hangs above and really sets the mood for some tracks like “The End is Near”. At some times the album starts to repeat itself a bit too much, though I imagine this is just because I am used to the extreme differences between tracks in albums past. I’ll still recommend Gallowsbird’s Bark as a starter album to those who are new to the Fiery Furnaces‘ world, but I’m Going Away will be the next step up.

Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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