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Slowly and Cautiously, the Strains of Surrender

I have not always been particularly kind to the Fiery Furnaces. I think it was the kind of praise they got, a totally bug-eyed slack-jawed mess, adjectives of praise falling like confetti around our feet, tired from walking through graveyards of unadventurous indie-pop. What I must concede to, with absolutely no recourse, is "Smelling Cigarettes," one of the songs collected on this year's EP. I feel like Ulysses got tossed around a couple times with Blueberry Boat, and a little carelessly at that. "Smelling Cigarettes" is the first thing I've heard that's Joyce-worthy; the karmic/fate-fueled reappearance of the billboard truck to run over the foot of Cristopher Hyde (after the same truck has lain our narrator boozed-up and couch-ridden) gives me the retribution shivers, for real. And gob, Joyce talked about how much he loved the end of the Odyssey, when poor pup Argus dies after finally recognizing his returned master. Some beautiful coincidence that the narrator's cat, amidst the confusion, forgets who he belongs to. An animal forgets who he belongs to; if that's not beautiful, I don't know what is.


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