On her quietly brilliant 2011 solo debut, Last Summer, the Fiery Furnaces singer/guitarist Eleanor Friedberger dialed back the art-pop zaniness of her day job several notches, which gave her verbose travelogues welcome breathing room. On Personal Record, Friedberger settles further into a vintage, Laurel Canyon-inspired sonic space, in which sparkling electric pianos and swirling organs commune with her sweetly brash vocals. Personal Record’s best moments are its most subdued. The delicate bossa nova ballad “Echo or Encore” and the hippy-ish idyll “I Am the Past” are particularly gorgeous. Elsewhere, “She’s a Mirror,” with its snappy Motown groove and Bolan-esque flight-of-fancy lyrics, is a blast. Though nothing here is quite as engaging as Last Summer’s riotous nostalgia bombs “My Mistakes” and “Roosevelt Island,” Personal Record is a lovingly crafted collection of sunny, retro-minded pop from one of indie rock’s most distinctive voices.
By J. Sam Bakken