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Here’s a spoiler for our upcoming list of the best songs of the 2000s: The Fiery Furnaces aren’t on it. To be honest, I didn’t include a Fiery Furnaces song on my own ballot of the 50 best songs of the 2000s, and when I realized I could live without my favorite Furnaces tunes on my personal list, it was clear that they had no shot at a broader consensus. I’m not sure if anyone voting on this list even particularly like the Fiery Furnaces, nevermind loves them. Even I, a committed fan who has seen them live multiple times and bought multiple Fiery Furnaces T-shirts, can’t really get through Blueberry Boat.
But among the many things I love about this band is the fact that—to date, with the caveat that reunions have become a seemingly non-negotiable part of a rock band’s life cycle—they are a prolific musical act that nonetheless is confined almost entirely to a single decade. There are certainly other bands that are pretty much of the 2000s, but most of them have some kind of asterisk: Rilo Kiley put out all of their albums in the 2000s, but they put out their first EP in 1999, and their belated swan-song rarities compilation appeared in 2013. The White Stripes did most of their best and biggest work in the 2000s, but their first album did come out in 1999. The entire body of the Fiery Furnaces’ recorded work—six studio albums, one album-sized EP, and the requisite Double Live record, plus assorted odds and ends—came out between 2003 and 2009. They played some shows in 2010 and early 2011, but there was no more new music. The band’s core siblings members, vocalist Eleanor Friedberger and mulit-instrumentalist Matthew Friedberger, went on to make a bunch of solo albums separately. Eleanor put out a great record this very year. No one asks her when the Fiery Furnaces are getting back together.
As much as I love the cleaner, clearer sound Eleanor has pursued on her own, there are brilliant moments throughout the Fiery Furnaces catalog, and they kept me company throughout the back half of the 2000s. As an appetizer to our full 2000s list coming later this week, here’s the rare SportsAlcohol.com music list presided over entirely by one weirdo fan.