Album Review: Eleanor Friedberger – New View

“Oh Eleanor, it’s going to be alright. Things may seem down right now, but I promise things will get better. People come and people go out of our lives, but we will always have the memories of those people to put a smile on our face. Or, bring a tear to the eye. Regardless, you will always be able to put those memories and emotions in perspective in your songs. Right?” – J. Hubner to an imagined Eleanor Friedberger 

If Eleanor Friedberger were here right now that’s probably something I would say to her. Ever since her first solo album in 2011 Friedberger has written very cut and dry, singer songwriter kind of fare. Very clean and crisp 70s pop production makes her subtly melancholy Laurel Canyon-esque tales of love, loss, and the occasional moment of whimsy all the more engaging and intriguing. Her tunes are a cross between Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, a more eccentric Carly Simon, and even hints of Chrissy Hynde in introspective mode. Her newest album, New View, feels like a series of journal entries about a break up or a loss in some form. Pages decorated in bubble lettering, big pink hearts, and sad faces. Tear-stained? Maybe.

“He Didn’t Mention His Mother” starts with tape speeding up, slowing down, then the song coming into focus as the song is carried on a steady stream of loping drums, strummed acoustics, and 60s-style organ. It seems very personal and direct, with someone out there knowing exactly what this song is referring to. “Open Season” continues that vibe with Friedberger singing “Have you seen the movie yet?” and “Is it freezing over there?/I’m moping in a tree museum/that’s my new hobby”, giving the scene, possibly a conversation between two ex lovers, both a heaviness and random ambiguity at the same time. In “Sweetest Girl” Friedberger sings “Sweet Girl with the broken heart/Stop cryin’ so I won’t start” over a cross between 60s soul and Brill Building pop chops. “Your Word” opens like electric Dylan but quickly goes for a more downer southern California vibe. “Because I Asked You” has a looser vibe, with funky electric piano and skronky guitar bends. “Cathy With The Curly Hair” is a driving pop song that succeeds at being both upbeat and a downer at the same time.

New View is a series of city vignettes about dealing with a break up, both directly and in a roundabout sort of way. Eleanor Friedberger continues to write engaging, catchy pop songs without ever becoming uninteresting or same-y. She’s a songwriter in the classicist sense, but every song feels very much her own.

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