Like a lot of listeners, I’m sure, I had all but given up on the siblings Friedberger. With the Fiery Furnaces seemingly exhausting their reserve of what once looked like an endless well of creativity—culminating in a surprising attempt at streamlined indie-pop on 2009s I’m Going Away—younger sister Eleanor has now followed her brother’s initiative and stepped out with a solo album of her own. Matthew’s double-disc solo debut, Winter Women/Holy Ghost Language School (2006), however, would prove a bellwether for the incoherency to come in the band’s next couple years of development.
It’d probably qualify as a mistake on my end, then, to read too much into just a single track from Eleanor’s forthcoming solo endeavor, Last Summer. But “My Mistakes” not only sounds like an advancement on I’m Going Away‘s less-fussy approach to songwriting, but also like the most immediately gratifying, endlessly re-playable pop nugget either sibling’s written in over a half-decade. Perhaps learning from her brother’s mistakes, Eleanor utilizes her Last Summer opener as an olive branch to listeners turned off by her band’s increasingly less convincing experimentation. And in 2011, after years of too many dead-end antics—or in the case of I’m Going Away, too little heart to put across a straightforward persona—“My Mistakes” immediately ingratiates itself as the standalone late spring jam both siblings probably never thought either would produce.
Locked into an almost kraut-like procession of clean, circular riffage and skipping percussion, Eleanor regurgitates lyrics in her typically unpunctuated style, yet in a nice little coup is able to contrast a series of disregarded examples of maturity (“I thought he’d learn from my mistakes,” goes the simple, direct hook) with the brightest, most inviting surroundings of her career. Though it lacks the ambitious prog-leanings of something like Blueberry Boat (2004), it more than makes up for it in loose charm, a well considered pace, and the last minute appearance of indie-rock’s latest go-to, saxophone. I think I can speak for everyone when I say: now this is more like it. [CMG]