A classic Seventies air possesses much of the material here in similarly effective fashion to Eleanor Friedberger’s previous offering, ‘Personal Record’, even if the highs aren’t quite as obvious and effervescent as they were on that 2013 release. The sound of a stopped record whirring back into life at the start of opening track ‘He Didn’t Mention His Mother’ rather serves to reinforce the sense of more of the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as her second solo record was an absolute triumph, but feels like fairly familiar territory.
Lyrically, Friedberger remains part-observer, part-subject, although she is now back in sole control after working with AOR artist John Wesley Harding last time out. ‘Your Word’ is a particular highlight, a keening synth line setting the pace rather magically ahead of a story about someone tired of hearing empty promises who “dreamt she took off both her ears, put them in the sand and walked away.” ‘Because I Asked You’ opens with the enjoyably leftfield queries “why would you want to take it slow, hold me till I let you go, treat me like a tennis pro, why would you want to do that?” but can’t quite measure up to such intrigue musically.
Having set such high standards with both ‘Last Summer’ and its successor, it was always going to be tricky to push on. ‘Cathy With The Curly Hair’ has an enjoyably whirling synth burst, while ‘Does Turquoise Work?’ has a slightly lopsided Mac DeMarco air to it, but they feel a little slight. Not that there isn’t plenty to enjoy, with ‘All Known Things’ a particular delight. It’s a relatively straightforward, mid-paced strummer with a lovely ascending guitar line around its chorus and the refrain “your beauty stands alone, amongst all known things.” The way in which “alone” just hangs in the air for several seconds serves to underline Friedberger’s neat capacity for especially striking lyrical delivery.
‘New View’ concludes in spectacular fashion, the vocal commencing immediately on ‘A Long Walk’ as the listener embarks on a metaphorical journey where the two halves of a relationship ultimately vary their pace and find themselves apart. Vintage folk guitar interludes and loose drumming keep up the tempo as the story unravels, until “I stopped to catch my breath and, turning round, you’re gone.” While ‘New View’ is not especially novel, it still has some fine songs at its core.
Words: Gareth James
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