Thou Shalt Love Thy Grandmother as Thyself

Artist: The Fiery Furnances

Album: Rehearsing My Choir

Brother and sister duo Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger return with their newest release, Rehearsing My Choir, which dives even deeper into their familiar topic of life in Chicago than their former albums (the tongue-twisting Gallowsbird’s Bark and their collection of previously recorded songs on EP) by being accompanied by their grandmother telling her zany stories.

The Fiery Furnaces’ Rehearsing My Choir is an old photo album resting on a coffee table, begging to be picked up and admired despite the fact that its audience is oblivious to what is occurring within the photographs. Brother Matthew’s radio-friendly voice is left at the door while putting out a welcome mat for the strange new voice of Olga Sarantos’ which sounds innocent and menacing at the same time, resulting in Kermit the Frog with a life threatening sinus infection. Narrated by Olga, “playing” herself and Eleanor, as the voice of a young Olga, the listener is taken back in time to when Olga was choir director at an Orthodox Church and when life was extremely different. Olga shares her memories of past love affairs and other secrets like that of Dr. Peter Pane and his brother who owned a donut factory and who didn’t use ingredients that didn’t have some sort of medical purpose including, but not limited to “chocolate so bitter that it could kill typhus and glazing so shiny it could set back glaucoma and filling so filling you didn’t need stitches.”

Because the CD is structured as an acoustic play, a strong background in theater and script writing is almost a necessity. However, after the initial (and, for this album, mandatory) two beginning-to-end listens, Eleanor’s unambiguous voice, Matthew’s multi-instrumental talent and the siblings’ apparent and astounding alliteration stand out, like the good friends one can always spot in a crowd.

The Friedbergers defy the stereotype of the typically cheesy family band. Case in point: Donnie and Marie Osmond. The Fiery Furnaces are just different. Whether it is because they blend the perfect ratio of country to rock n’ roll (0:100), or because they repeatedly outdo themselves, they prove to be different from the other “has-been” duets of the past as well as to come. To check out Rehearsing My Choir, or any Fiery Furnaces albums, head to Pure Pop!