Ezra Furman - Perpetual Motion People

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2015-07-06

Ezra Furman is a colourful musical chameleon, one not to be held down or restrained in any way. He’s an uneasy fidget who lyrically wears his heart on his sleeve, leaving you swimming in a vat of ebbing tears of joy and sadness. This is his new album, Perpetual Motion People, and his third as a ‘solo artist’ having previously worked under the title of Ezra Furman and the Harpoons.

Mixing his love for 60s rock 'n' roll, heavy doses of doo-wop, and shards of melancholy, he twists his way through 13 songs, which take you on a rollercoaster of mixed emotions as Furman talks about religion, mental illness, death and loneliness. His self-loathing and cathartic release of emotions are chalk and cheese to his musical soundscapes at times. 

Opener ‘Restless Year’ personifies this; a bouncy, twangy guitar with girl-group vocals wrecked by Ezra’s belligerent anger and sheer bloody-minded directness: “Death is my former employer…Death is my own Tom Sawyer”. ‘Lousy Connection’ is a song seriously destined for airplay even though the effervescent arrangement is merely a bit part in Furman’s tortured soul: “Try to interpret but the message is scrambled/ The institutions that I lean are crumbled/ I've got the world's ear but I'm all fucking mumbles/ I guess I'm just another link the chain”.

Furman talks about the demons that torture his soul on ‘Haunted Head’: “I’m naked now because it doesn’t really matter when the shades are down/ I was born this way I’ll down this way/ I don’t know how I’m ever gonna tell myself the truth”. Not many artists would be so open about mental health issues and dealing with them. You can’t help immerse yourself in his feelings, such is the power of his lyrical prowess and frank honesty. 

The pace slows on ‘Hour of Deepest Need’, a simple acoustic set-up accompanied by minimal yet ebullient piano key strokes and brushed drums.: “But sometimes you’ve just got to let that sucker bleed… when the sun drags in the day… in the hour of my deepest need".  It's lyrically downbeat but uplifting, such is the unmovable force of Furman’s gob iron.

“I’m sick of this record already,” he tells us on the opening of ‘Ordinary Life’. “The human mind gets sick real easy the human mind gets well fucking sick of beauty”. Furman really opens up, his voice rasps with passion and bruised brutality. A song of a man at a desperate and weary time perhaps.

Perpetual Motion People is such an interesting album, telling the story of a man in a very dark place but also seeing value in painting the dark subject manner with his trademark rockabilly layout,  simplified on the brilliant ‘Pot Holes’, which is accompanied by skiffle, soaring sax, and the influence of a certain Phil Spector.

The album closer ‘One Day I Will Sin No More’ is full of plaintive melancholy. Furman keeps his lyrics terse, serious and armed with a chilling coldness: “One day first shall be last and last be first/ till the day it all comes crashing in I ask forgiveness for my sins”. 

Perpetual Motion People is a breakthrough album for Furman in so many ways, swarming in musical light and shade, candid lyrics, and wayward diversity. One of the most heartfelt collections of songs you’ll hear all year.

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