The Fiery Furnaces EP

No matter what anyone says, 2004 really was the year of the Fiery Furnaces. It doesn’t matter that some people misunderstood and unappreciated Blueberry Boat — the fact a record that challenging was accepted and loved by so many was enough to deem it the year’s biggest breakthrough. And while they currently record their follow-up with Grandma Friedberger, they already have an EP ready for our enjoyment. But the beauty is, aside from the misleading title, this is hardly an EP. Clocking in at over 40 minutes, this record contains singles and B-sides only released outside of North America. However, do not pass this off as some schlocky compilation of throwaway cuts unworthy for inclusion on an album. EP contains some of the band’s finest moments to date. "Single Again” and "Evergreen,” two songs released together as a double A-side, didn’t fit BB’s format, but were conceived at the same time and prove the Friedbergers didn’t fall under a spell of never-ending, tangent-heavy jams. The latter even showcases Eleanor’s knack for penning top-notch ballads. Also included is quite possibly the band’s finest pop nugget to date: the radio edit of "Tropical Ice-land.” Pumping the original full of citrusy adrenaline, the song now hosts scrumptious pop hooks and Eleanor’s stab at singing in tongues. With a flow that’s as smooth as a DJ mixtape, EP is more along the lines of another year-end contender than a distraction until the next full-length drops. (Rough Trade)