Text by Gerrit Feenstra and Janice Headley
Standing on the marble altar, and beneath the stained glass windows, Eleanor Friedberger quipped to the audience, “The only thing better than playing at noon, is playing at noon in a church.” If we may add, the only thing better than that is having it be the melodic pop stylings of Ms. Friedberger herself.
Eleanor Friedberger continues to make a strong statement for herself this year with her sophomore solo effort Personal Record. Together with her brother Matt, Friedberger spent the first decade of her musical career as one half of The Fiery Furnaces, the bizarre avant-garde pop storytelling group that gave us strangely danceable classics like “Navy Nurse” and “Single Again,” as well as the softer, later ’70s pop wonder of I’m Going Away. But in 2011, the two decided to go in separate musical directions for a time, giving us Friedberger’s wonderful first solo record Last Summer. Personal Record builds on Last Summer in every possible way, seeing Eleanor’s pop songwriting chops grow exponentially and seeing her lyrics become more relatable and personable. Following a solo tour this year, Friedberger’s CMJ performance continues to show off how far she’s come and where she’s going next.