NPR logo First Listen: Eleanor Friedberger, 'Personal Record'

First Listen: Eleanor Friedberger, 'Personal Record'

I Don't Want To Bother You

Audio for this story is unavailable.

Eleanor Friedberger's new album, Personal Record, comes out June 4. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Eleanor Friedberger's new album, Personal Record, comes out June 4.

Courtesy of the artist

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

As half of the brother-sister act The Fiery Furnaces — presently on hiatus — Eleanor Friedberger indulges some of her artier and more experimental, unpredictable impulses. As a solo artist, she's the epitome of subtle, un-showy cool. Friedberger's first solo record, 2011's Last Summer, was a marvelous exercise in nostalgia; the dryly sweet musical equivalent of a 35-year-old Polaroid. On Personal Record, out June 4, her palette expands to include a wider array of themes and perspectives, while she maintains a minimalist-cool sound that's sweet, simple and timeless. Friedberger wrote Personal Record with singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding, who knows a little something about smart love songs of every stripe.

As a vocalist, Friedberger's dryly flat affect has a slight tremble to it, with appealing plainspokenness to match arrangements like the one in "When I Knew," in which even the handclaps are muted. There's a lot of air in the sweet ballad "Echo or Encore" and elsewhere; she keeps enough spareness in these songs that when she switches up the formula — as in the lush choruses of "She's a Mirror," the bouncy strum of "Stare at the Sun" or the flashes of distortion in "Tomorrow Tomorrow" — the joys and surprises hit that much harder.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.