The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea

Music Reviews The Fiery Furnaces
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The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea

A melancholy travelog from indie rock’s restless provocateurs

International travel might be exotic and glamorous, but it also has a dark side: the isolation of being immersed in unfamiliar languages,

oceans apart from loved ones. This backpack paranoia drenches The Fiery Furnaces’ latest, a record less overtly conceptual than its predecessors but no less challenging and rewarding. Listeners sent fleeing by the eccentricity of their Grandma opera Rehearsing My Choir can warily creep back, as Bitter Tea scoops out its share of sucrose Motown-inflected melodies filtered through the Friedbergers’ keyboard fetish. But devoted followers need not fear a compromise, as the Furnaces throw in a couple of their characteristic multi-song suites and resist anything resembling traditional song structure. Most thrilling is their dissection of the backwards vocal—an ancient rock cliché utilized as both avant-garde atmosphere and skewed pop tool—before culminating in the brilliant forward/reverse duet of the bittersweet “Nevers!”