20 Watts

Editor’s Pick #148: Fiery Furnaces Come Back to Going Away by Eric Vilas-Boas
The Fiery Furnaces want to go solo to ... play the same songs

The Fiery Furnaces decide to go solo to ... play the same songs

PREVIEW: The Fiery Furnaces’ “Keep Me in the Dark” MP3
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 20 Watts Reviews I’m Going Away

When we reviewed The Fiery Furnaces’ latest album I’m Going Away, we called it “musically solid but conceptually weak.” Well, a week after its official release, this brother-and-sister duo are back with a brand new idea to tickle indie-rock fancies everywhere. They want to cover their own album — twice.

The plan is to have Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger individually cover I’m Going Away as solo artists, with two new releases from the duo. Six songs on each will be performed by one of them, resulting in 24 re-recorded songs. According to the band, apart from the lyrics, no song will sound the same as its I’m Going Away counterpart, but I’m skeptical.

It’s one thing to  re-record your work before a finished product drops. Be it The Beatles’ notorious last album Let It Be or Klaxons’ latest effort, albums get re-recorded or mixed any number of times before release. However, calling them covers when you put the same songs out months earlier isn’t just a stupid concept; it’s a sneaky one. It’s called double-dipping: releasing multiple versions of the same product with the notion that crazed fans will buy all of them. George Lucas, in all his DVD-bastardizing glory, is well-known for this practice in the film industry.

We can only hope that these covers from Eleanor and Matthew — not The Fiery Furnaces — actually end up unique and worthwhile enough to merit such fanfare. Most artists just release different song versions as the B-sides to singles or on a compilation EP. Instead, Eleanor and Matthew see fit to devote two studio albums to the songs.

Sometimes alternate versions are hidden gems, while other times they only serve to lampoon the original. On the other hand, did I’m Going Away have enough bad songs to ruin the album in a retreading? Hopefully these two full-length releases will find as warm a reception as the original did, or else a band once lauded for conceptual innovation could get buried in their own burnt match-heads.

On a side-note, for those fans who’ll be in the NYC area on August 9, The Fiery Furnaces will be playing a free show in Brooklyn at the Williamsburg Waterfront. Perhaps one of them will test-drive going solo and see what happens. Either way, it’s free, no reason not to go!

— Eric Vilas-Boas, Production Editor


This is just too gimmicky for my liking. So lame.

Comment by johncassillo

Labels are having a hard enough time pushing original full-lengths, let alone quasi-cover albums. Who is going to buy these? Are Fiery Furnaces independently wealthy? I would admittedly like to hear this, but there’s no way I’d pay for it.

Comment by caitlindewey

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