Artist: Ezra Furman
Album: Perpetual Motion People
Label: Bella Union
For fans of: Jonathan Richman, Violent Femmes
Standout tracks: Lousy Connection, Restless Year, Ordinary Life, Haunted Head
Rating: [xrr rating=4.5/5]
Ezra Furman never stops moving. In his live performances he delivers something visceral and tangible, a giving of not only his energy and artistry but soul, he sweats his emotions and his heartbeats through his chest and music. Perpetual Motion People is the maturing of Furman, the expression hitting its most poignant note and the music filling every corner of one’s listening pleasure.
Since Day of the Dog, which had all the snotty punk sarcasm and post-modern sardonicism of Andy Warhol raised bisexual by Sid Vicious in Brooklyn. Furman has clearly been putting his heart in to his latest LP however, out via Bella Union now, it’s at points shinier than a brand new penny and at times darker than the murky gutter it will doubtless be dropped in.
‘Restless Year’ opens the scene and gives Furman his chance to wiggle those hips as it hits rock and roll square between the eyes with Furman’s brilliant, scratching vocal perfectly backed by doo-wop shrills – it sets the tone of the whole album. ‘Lousy Connection’ adds a touch of neo-soul without sounding mangled in to the genre, it flirts with the sonics but keeps them fresh and current. It touches on the incredible connection of isolation in the modern world he does so in typically wry efficiency “There’s nothing happening, it’s happening too fast”.
It’s fair to say that Furman isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and with Perpetual Motion People he smears the bloody mess across our faces ‘Haunted Head’ and ‘Can I Sleep In Your Brain?’ are testament to this. One track to really hit home amongst a sea of feet-shuffling ditties is ‘Ordinary Life’, the track deals with suicide as well as Furman’s own mental health issues with complete veracity and tact “Human mind gets sick real easy, human mind gets so sick of beauty” belts Furman, and its gentile nature touches the soul and mind.
As the album cools down to its darkest points “It’s fun being drunk on the weekend, it’s funner being drunk all week” sings Furman on ‘Watch You Go By’. His vulnerability laid bare across a touching rhythm as he dissects his past, present and future with extraordinary honesty and tenderness. ‘One Day I Will Sin No More’ only goes to further this feeling and amongst the saxophone soul and punk rock of ‘Hark! To The Music’ these tracks are a welcome relief.
The album’s creative spark derives from the vast array of genres that Furman bows his cap to. From soul to doo-wop to straight up rock and roll and folk, the album touches so many corners of the musical world it makes the LP feel ubiquitous in its diversity. Always amongst this diversity is the underlining theme of Furman’s current existence, it details in complete transparency his construction and destruction all within a countrified punk sound with a Jonathan Richman twist.
Furman wear his label of a misfit with pride. He embellishes it with humour and tragedy and derides it with sneers and snarls. But more importantly, he transcends it with his encompassing imagery, his complete honesty and unwavering direction.
He may be bisexual, genderfluid and Jewish etc. but Perpetual Motion People proves he will always be, first and foremost, an incredible artist and just like you