After a few years of Ezra Furman fandom, you start to put unfair expectations on the singer. The past five years have seen a few great albums come out of the Evanston native. Every time a new record is announced I think “No way this could possibly be as good as the last one.” And time and time again, I’m proven wrong. Perpetual Motion People raised the bar once again, continuing Furman’s reign as North America’s best songwriter.
I had the chance to see Furman with his band The Boy-friends a couple months ago, so I had a rough idea of how a couple new songs would sound. The singles were already out at that point and they’re both phenomenal. “Lousy Connection” gets better every time I hear it. But there were still 8 or 9 tracks to be discovered. After listening it’s easy to say that we’ve struck gold once again.
“Haunted Head” is an early favorite for favorite non-single. The lyrics are typical Furman-clever, honest, relateable: “I’m naked now, because it doesn’t really matter when the shades are down. I was born this way I’ll die this way. I don’t know how I’m ever gonna tell myself the truth.”
The secret weapon on Perpetual Motion People is Tim Sandusky and his saxophone. Peppered throughout the record are moments of sheer woodwind brilliance reminiscent of Clarence Clemons on the E Street albums. Not only does it make the individual songs better, but it helps ease the transition from aggressive rock tunes to the more doo-wop and soul sounds of tracks like “Body Was Made.”
Furman sings about identity, sexuality, and feelings of alienation with a frankness and eloquence most can only dream about. His ability to write catchy pop songs that capture the essence of so many problems facing humanity is fascinating. Perpetual Motion People is another in a long line of albums that makes me wonder what he could possibly do next.