Eleanor Friedberger has one of the better surnames going around and with her brother was the brains behind the erratic and off-kilter arrangements of their band, The Fiery Furnaces. With that outfit on hiatus, Freidberger has taken to releasing another album under her own name.
Friedberger’s second solo LP, Personal Record, continues the singer’s exploration of more straight-forward pop structures. There is a naivety to When I Knew as Friedberger reflects on the youthful exploration of relationships that only adds to the charm instead of being nauseating. The glitz of My Own World hints at the possibility of becoming a major label attraction somewhere between Liz Phair and Gwen Stefani.
There is unbridled honesty on Personal Record as the varying reason for failed romances are brought to the fore. I’ll Never Be Happy Again and I Am The Past could have run the risk of becoming overly earnest, but Friedberger knows when to pull a melodic gem back from the brink of becoming to packed, polished and produced.
Friedberger appears to have shunned her art-rock past for an album that lacks any of the indulgence that was known to hinder some of her previous albums. Personal Record offers no left turns or surprises, it may not be her coolest record, but it is clearly her finest.
_ CHRIS HAVERCROFT