Eleanor Friedberger – “He Didn’t Mention His Mother” (Singles Going Steady)

Friedberger clearly isn’t trying to make “art” anymore, but there’s nothing wrong with writing a good pop song.

Evan Sawdey: Wanna know something truly amazing? At this point, there are going to be genuine, unironic Eleanor Friedberger fans who have no idea she used to be part of Fiery Furnaces (and, after one listen to Blueberry Boat, will promptly and happily keep it so that they never hear that band again). Ultimately, any critic will be lying to themselves if they said that “He Didn’t Mention His Mother” was somehow the best thing she’s ever done, because it is relentlessly pleasant, but notably indistinct, an issue she hasn’t had with her previous two solo ventures. It’s a nice opening salvo for what is hopefully nothing but good things to come, but this is the audio handshake, the formal introduction to the new record. Now we just need to get some drinks with it, loosen it up, and discover its real personality. [5/10]

Steve Horowitz: Expectations. Longings. Those are primal urges. Friedberger can dress them up in polite clothing, but the truth is simple. Or as she puts it: “A house, a chair and a rug.” That doesn’t make one crazy, but it can limit one’s perception. Friedberger understands that feeling too little really means one feels too much, but her playing and back up instrumentation lacks passion. There is only place for one stone face in the room. [6/10]

Ryan Dieringer: That Mazzie Star progression always has a way of leveling me, but once the lyrics start on this song, I feel like Friedberger’s kicking me while I’m down. The band sounds great, but as usual I find it hard to get into Friedberger’s overly direct lyrics. When she was in Fiery Furnaces, it was often difficult to get over the cerebral quality of the words, but there was always that saving context of Matthew Friedberger’s twisted sonic sensibilites. Without that, I’m hearing a dope intro, and then whole lotta children’s song circle at a folk festival. [4/10]

Kevin Korber: I appreciate how loose Friedberger sounds here; in the past (especially when she was still working with her brother), I found her music too mannered and stilted to enjoy. This has a very appealing folk-rock bent to it that highlights the best qualities of her voice. Friedberger clearly isn’t trying to make “art” anymore, but there’s nothing wrong with writing a good pop song. [6/10]