A lot of music nowadays is slipping into the delightful habit of refusing to be pigeonholed into one genre or sound. Ezra Furman is one of many displaying this trait in his latest, stunning release Perpetual Motion People. From snarling vocals to unashamedly honest lyrics, this is an album that defies genre and a man who, quite rightly, refuses to stick to one sound.
Opening track ‘Restless Year’ could well stand for the album as a whole, with Furman himself noting that Perpetual Motion People is about and for “people who feel they can never settle.” It is an album for the restless, with the American musician seemingly the most restless of them all.
Indeed the sound itself jumps from faced-paced, drum-infused opener to slower, more heartfelt sounds throughout. And, just when you think he’s down and out, Furman rises once more; armed with instrumentals a plenty and a fire in his belly, singing with such conviction that you believe in every word he sings. Good and bad.
The constant change in moods and tempo mean the album could never be seamless. But nor is it confused or mismatched. The songs wander from feeling to feeling, from the uplifting, King Charles-esque ‘Hark! to the Music’ to the delicate, hazy sounds of ‘Hour of Deepest Need,’ where guitar and piano combine to create a beautiful, poetic intro over ballad-like lyrics.
Furman’s open and honest nature is the most endearing quality the LP has to offer, as he willingly lays bear both his heart and mind for all to see. ‘Can I Sleep in Your Brain’ talks of a need for “some kind of shelter,” while ‘Watch You Go By’ is unequivocally frank with regards to the music industry; “I’ve got a bright future in music, as long as I never find true happiness.”
That being said, the more high-tempo tracks are the most striking and are the standout points of the album. In particular, ‘Wobbly,’ the mid-point of the thirteen-song-strong LP is fast, emotive and overall superb. The beginning of the track is also ever so slightly reminiscent of the Stokes, with ‘Tip of a Match,’ also hinting at similar garage-rock roots – with snarling vocals from Furman to boot.
Not that you could compare Ezra Furman too much to any existing artist or band. His sound is his own, and Perpetual Motion People, his third solo album, is both brash and beautiful in equal measures. The use of seemingly any instrument he and his band can get their hands on, from harmonica to trumpet, showcase a vast array of talent in every track, right up until the closing song ‘One Day I Will Sin No More,’ where all backing singers and the various collection of instruments depart, leaving Furman and his guitar alone for a poignant finale.
It seems stereotypical of me to attribute an album to a season, but this is not only the perfect accompaniment to summer days; but also the absolute embodiment of British Summertime: it’s mostly sunny, mostly upbeat; but there are clouds drawing in and storms you can’t escape. But the aftermath of it all? Quite simply beautiful.
‘Perpetual Motion People’ is out now on Bella Union.
The full track-listing for ‘Perpetual Motion People’ is as follows…