I'm not sure why the Fiery Furnaces call this collection "EP," since it's the length of many full albums. But it shows how talented this new band is that even their odds, ends and leftovers are better than average. This colorful collection has no real flow, but it still ends up being one of the best releases thus far from 2005.
It kicks off with some stiff, dancey electropop, which sounds a bit like Devo at times. But then the tone changes radically, with the entrance of "Here Comes the Summer's" charmingly loopy pop, complete with muffled acoustic guitars, or "Evergreen's" offbeat, slightly jerky rock. It's hard listen to these three without being hungry for more.
What comes after that is not exactly even and flowing. It's very much in the style of their "Blueberry Boat" album, yet all the songs are unlinked. Rollicking rock-pop sits next to enchantingly ethereal pop ditties, and folky tunes sit beside weird art-pop. The finale, "Sullivan Social Club," is a masterful mix of electro swooshes and stately indiepop.
The rapid changes in style are what keep "EP" from being, as Mary Poppins puts it, practically perfect in every way. Were the songs linked, it would have been an absolute masterpiece. As it is, the songs can be taken individually as fun, often catchy indiepop that never sacrifices its complexity and quality for cheap hooks.
What it does do is show off the Fiery Furnaces' wide range of styles. The lines between styles blur in many of these songs, using acoustic guitar, fuzzy piano and electronic swooshes to make rock, pop, dance music and exquisite ballads. And their quirky songwriting gets another stretch, with only a few that skim too close to cutesiness.
Fuzzy piano, ethereal melodies and dancepop all mesh together in this colorful collection, which only proves that the Fiery Furnaces are headed for even greater things. After all, a patchwork "EP" of B-sides and leftovers is one of the best releases so far this year.