Widow City - The Fiery Furnaces
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 29
  2. Negative: 2 out of 29
  1. A gas, a blast. [12 Oct 2007, p.75]
  2. An astonishing act of rejuvenation and reclamation, the album may just be the group’s best to date, and solidly reestablishes Eleanor and Matthew as progenitors of brilliantly exciting, mind-scrambling pop.
  3. For a 21st century rock band, there isn't a single moment here that threatens to turn into an 'anthem' to be balled out at the Nestle-Monsanto Rock Festival at a mud-pit near you next summer.
  4. It’s a decided step forward, more confident and comfortable than they’ve ever sounded, and with (as always) a few unfortunate exceptions, an incredibly strong collection of songs. [Fall 2007, p.73]
  5. 80
    Widow City is the Furnaces' punchiest set to date. [Nov 2007, p.104]
  6. Widow City's major accomplishment is how it captures the band's live power and sheds some of their mannered studio sound. It rocks hard, and often.
  7. 80
    Widow City goes on for a while--maybe too long. But it's quite a trip [Oct 2007, p.106]
  8. Widow City is by far the band’s toughest-as-nails record yet, with Matthew incessantly setting fire to the stage.
  9. It’s their most accessible and coherent to date.
  10. Widow City is endlessly enjoyable, yielding new detail every time you slip through its song mazes. [Oct 2007, p.59]
  11. This record's delightful and wholly original; no one else could possibly have made it.
  12. Widow City is among its least convoluted and most straightforward.
  13. No one does puzzle-pop quite like the Fiery Furnaces, and despite the multi-genre pileups and lofty literary pretension, when they get it right it's enough to forgive them for when they get it wrong.
  14. The Fiery Furnaces earn repeated listens on hooks and convoluted storytelling alone, though 2003's "Gallowsbird's Bark and Bitter Tea" hold more surprises.
  15. It all sounds cleaner and more accessible than anything they've done in the past, but that might actually be part of the problem.
  16. 70
    It’s a fantastically difficult record, but almost every passage of knotty head-game weirdness quickly dovetails into something dramatic and physical, and it all sparkles with crushed particles of the blues.
  17. So the Furnances are up to their usual tricks, making unexpected mash-ups of their own ideas. [Nov. 2007, p.160]
  18. Widow City covers so much territory so quickly that it can actually give you jetlag, and its geographical diversity is mirrored by its hallucinatory, irreconcilable lyrics.
  19. This dauntingly difficult-to-sit-through disc of scattershot rhythms, quickly discarded melodies, and opaque ideas seems as much a contrarian dare to its audience as anything else. That's either good or bad news, depending on whether you find Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger's schizophrenic approach irritating or intriguing, grating or great - or maybe both.
  20. Widow City is a fascinating album. Unfortunately, sometimes it's more fascinating than it is listenable.
  21. Widow City is wordy, nerdy, and throws in everything but the hurdy-gurdy.
  22. The libretto/story/concept of the album is of absolutely no interest to me, and it won't be to you either.
  23. Its surreal mix of chamber-pop, electro-funk and avant-garde noise is well executed, but it's so scatter shot, that, ultimately, it frustrates. [Nov 2007, p.137]
  24. As usual, this record will leave many scratching their heads, but for fans who like their music a little more complicated, this is easily one of the more interesting records out there.
  25. Factor in the music’s kitchen-sink vibe--anchored by a Chamberlin keyboard that triggers tape loops of various instruments--and the album is a lot to take in. But the task can be rewarding.
  26. 40
    By now the patience of even their most ardent fans must be wearing thin
  27. Since the band plays it so safe on this record, it makes the stories they are telling sound emotionless.
  28. There’s plenty in the way of ambition on Widow City, but little substance to back it up.
  29. The remainder of the 16-song, hourlong question mark is emphatic spoken word hurled over a sound check--pretentious, superfluous, and ultimately unlistenable.

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