Eleanor Friedberger has always been the id of Fiery Furnaces, the free-spirited traveler whose casual observations, lightly digested, take shape in surreal, discontinuous stories. She has always been the one who navigated her brothers’ abrupt, shape-shifting melodies, laying a guide-rope of pop through Escher-esque puzzles of musical structure. Moreover, she has always been the one standing outside the whole enterprise, rolling her eyes, putting a half-twist on things so you can’t take them literally, can not, in fact, take them too seriously. Talk to Matt Friedberger about Fiery Furnaces and you’ll get a long, rambling discourse on influences, conceptual underpinnings and the meaning of art in a transient world. Talk to Eleanor and you’ll get a string of one-liners and put-downs. Whatever Fiery Furnaces was, and it has changed from album to album, she has never seemed to buy in entirely.
It is surprising, then, that Eleanor Friedberger’s first solo album, Last Summer, is so direct and straightforward.
I've never talked to Eleanor, but I've interviewed Matt a couple of times, once for Splendid and once for Neumu.