Eleanor Friedberger: Last Summer

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Eleanor Friedberger
Last Summer
(Merge Records)

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Eleanor Friedberger is best known as half of The Fiery Furnaces, the punchy and prolific duo completed by her brother Matthew. Her first solo offering, Last Summer, is the perfect soundtrack for long, humid days. Nothing’s too fast, instead providing a lingering sense of peace and pleasure, something to listen to while relaxing on a porch after a long day.

With all the clever grace of her usual performance, Friedberger takes a more underspoken approach with her solo material. Rather than trying to fit into one genre, Friedberger allows herself to experiment with tone and instruments, which leads the songs to sound delightfully retro. It’s a slow burn that holds together as an album overall rather than as a collection of spiky, disjointed songs.

Each track deserves gushing words of praise, but I’ll be brief about a few favorites. “Heaven” is a dreamy song augmented by handclaps and horns, while “I Won’t Fall Apart on You Tonight” sounds like it could have been torn from the radio in the 60’s if women had been more empowered musically. “One-Month Marathon” highlights the strength of Friedberger’s voice against the fragile backing track.

There’s nothing flashy about Last Summer, and with good reason. Friedberger is at ease as an artist and has produced a finely restrained record for her name. Put it on, grab a cool drink, and let her voice wash over you.

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