What a strange, but interesting album. The first time I heard it (4 days ago), I was terribly disappointed, having assumed it would be just like their last record. I had forgotten that the Fiery Furnaces previous releases had taken some adjusting to at first, and that was what made them so special. This band changed my expectations of what a record could be like, along with bands like Pere Ubu and The Fall. So, after throwing my own little tantrum about how they’d finally taken creative indulgence too far, and furiously scouring the net for reviews from other similarly disenchanted fans, I found that there were some folks who not only liked Rehearsing My Choir, but loved it. I jumped to judgement that these were people who would applaud anything new, and wouldn’t know a catchy tune if they fell over it. Or, that they had awarded it top marks just to annoy the people who hated it. Folks everywhere seem completely polarised and give this record a 1 or a 10, with little in-between. Well, I’ll be the in-between and rank it a 7 (or a 3 of 5 on Amazon). There are some fascinating lyrics, familiar stage production/radio serial style vignettes, and dollops of catchy tunes in there if you listen for them. At first I disliked the inescapable grandmother’s voice (in fact, I still have a hard time believing it’s a ladies voice, no matter how old) but it’s a voice so theatrically filled with history and drama, that I found myself drawn into the stories. You could spend a lifetime examining these lyrics and still be blown away with their originality and imagination. There is sadness and joy, melancholy and anger. The songs aren’t as strong as previous releases, but there is plenty more to like about this release than a lot of the tripe from girl-with-guitar soloists or AC/DC imitators out there nowdays. This is not a release for the faint hearted, or for someone who wants a verse-chorus-verse-chorus format; it sets a mood that makes it difficult to choose what to play afterwards. I ended up playing it twice in a row today instead.