Based on the related suggestions Google offers for a search of the name “Eleanor Friedberger,” it seems that fans love to see her matched up—with her brother, Matthew, as part of the band the Fiery Furnaces (“Eleanor Friedberger Fiery Furnaces”), with any man, especially Franz Ferdinand‘s lead singer Alex Kapranos, in a romantic capacity (“Eleanor Friedberger boyfriend,” “Eleanor Friedberger dating,” “Alex Kapranos Eleanor Friedberger”) or with a fashion label in a promotional campaign (“Eleanor Friedberger Miu Miu”). Friedberger’s latest project finds her finally without a partner of any kind, as she steps up for her solo album, Last Summer.
As the title suggests, the album was recorded last summer and shelved until now, giving the wistful happiness and nostalgia of its songs ample time to ripen. Friedberger tends to layer a variety of often paradoxical emotions over simple melodies to craft her songs—carefree-ness tinged with regret or happiness colored with longing. She captures the dreamy, sentimental experience of recalling past summers, at times romanticizing and at others soberly reflecting. “I want to rewind, it’s not the same as regret,” she sing-talks on the album’s last track, “Early Earthquake,” a moment when Friedberger seems to lose herself in the rose-colored glasses of hindsight.
“Early Earthquake” is one of several tracks that gives Last Summer its overall happy, sunny-weather feeling, like “My Mistakes” or “I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight.” However, Friedberger approaches other styles and emotions with quieter, folkier tracks like “One-Month Marathon,” the funked-up “Roosevelt Island” and the haunting reverb of “Inn Of The Seventh Ray.” Last Summer sees Friedberger stretching her limbs as a three-dimensional indie darling, one who takes instantly nostalgic pictures next to a Lamborghini in Brooklyn, falls asleep on the subway, buys a bicycle on Coney Island and looks like Feist or Charlotte Gainsbourg. Her songs are rambling stories, half-sung in the second person to address the partners absent in her solo career.