A New Sound For A New View
What is it about Eleanor Friedberger’s voice that sounds so comforting and strangely familiar? Perhaps, it is because her music reflects something from an older time, a return to the simple, or the fact that her voice is like a combination of Carly Simon and Carrie Brownstein. It is an echo of something recognizable and understated as well as raw and completely weird. Her new record, New View is an album unlike most records people are used to. It is unorthodox, clever, and droll. It is because of the eccentricities of the vocals and insightful lyrics that anyone who has ears and is open to new musical experiences will identify and appreciate this record and everything that Friedberger has to offer.
The lyrics on this album show Friedberger’s departure from the themes and stories in most other Pop songs. Yes, they still focus on unrequited love and relationships that are fraught with cheating and drama. The difference is, when she sings, the lyrics are somewhat silly and cartoonish. That is to say, that by singing them without attaching all of the superficial importance and pretention that so many artists attempt, she manages to transform heartbreaking music into quirky and buoyant songs.
The songs “He Didn’t Mention His Mother” and “Cathy With The Curly Hair” are good examples of these kinds of songs. In the first song, she oscillates between images of her partner and their struggles as a couple and how a friend of hers and her child ran over a dog. It is a slightly schizophrenic song in the way that she changes from one topic to the next, but somehow because of the form of stream of consciousness in her lyrics, it makes the music accessible and takes away from the seriousness of it all. As for “Cathy With The Curly Hair,” the disorder of the lyrics and Friedberger’s inability to finish a song without at least one tangential verse, reduces the staidness of it all.
New View is an album that would please any pretentious coffee shop intellectual as well as any music lover. One thing that Friedberger has that most artists do not possess is intelligence. While her voice is nothing special and by some standards not even that good, it is the lyrics and the way in which she delivers them that leave a lasting mark.