The distribution of power for the sibling band the Fiery Furnaces has long been simplified thusly: Older bro Matthew Friedberger writes the lyrics and wrangles the serpentine arrangements, and little sis Eleanor Friedberger delivers the lines with a dorkily unflappable charisma. So when Eleanor's solo record Last Summer
was released this year, it was anyone's guess how she would do striking out on her own. The result? A streamlined, pop-friendly record that retains some of the Furnaces' endearing weirdness and her boho-poetry delivery. She even rides the tail end of the zeitgeist with a smooth sax solo at the end of winsome opening number "My Mistakes" without any smirking self-awareness.
Better Than: Wading through some of the last few Fiery Furnaces records, digging for pop hooks amid the prog-rock muck.