This week's second new release is the second solo and seventh overall album from the frighteningly prolific Ezra Furman – Transangelic Exodus.
Whilst technically not a concept album, Transangelic Exodus is most certainly an album in a thematic key. Furman lays the groundwork by hypothesising a world in which people transition into angels, thrusting them into a life being outlawed and marginalised by an Orwellian authority who will chase Furman and his angelic objet d'amour to the ends of the Earth to punish their perceived indiscretions. A real life narrative stylistically revived into an album that feels part musical odyssey, part artistic installation as Furman shapes a delicate world around his listeners.
Opening track Suck The Blood From My Wound provides a majority of the linear storyline as an 80s undertone and punchy vocals spin a Thelma and Louise like tale of love on the run from prejudice. What follows are explorations of emotion. The atmospheric Driving Down To LA captures the desert night to perfection and uses light and dark textures to flawlessly juxtapose the catharsis of driving against the frantic sensory overload of the city. No Place is a runaway track laced with a claustrophobia reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder's work on Midnight Express. It excels in the quieter moments though as thoughts of home, however troubled, creep back in with a conflicted tenderness.
Compulsive Liar is easily the album's most personal track. There is something so beautiful in its stripped back fragility as Furman expertly conveys the secrets and lies that go hand in hand with identifying as anything other than heterosexual in the imperfect society in which we now live. Love You So Bad is a catchy, cello-infused microcosm of teenage love in its all-consuming, resplendent glory. At times it feels a little like parody but with faint capillaries of truth as all good parody should have. Psalm 151 serves as the end credits to Ezra's story as both our characters move beyond the limits of religion and begin to write their own story together. The album closes out with the uplifting sixties vibes of I Lost My Innocence, Furman's loving embrace to his sexuality and the fight that is unfortunately associated with it. His angel has set him free and shown him a world where love reigns above all else. It is a powerful and important message.
There is so much to love about this album. Furman's voice, to begin with, is a marvel. It flits and furrows with an enviable grace, one minute adopting a Marilyn Manson tone, the next conjuring up a harsh vulnerability which is endearing. The imagery is intricate and the intensity is immaculately realised without ever feeling contrived. Cinematically, the movie that this album would be is one part Baz Luhrmann, one part Angels In America and many more parts of Furman's own unique, inimitable vision. Whilst there is a comment on the political, it is veiled beneath a graceful gossamer which serves only to magnify its impact. The end product is an album that simultaneously feels grandiose, porcelain, colourful, bleak and, most of all, significant.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Week
“Car wash waiting room outside Pasadena//I'm sitting waiting for my deus ex machina”
Suck The Blood From My Wound
Spreads its wings and soars
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