Conceptually Grand and Sonically Bold
Ezra Furman is a musician and songwriter who was originally known as Ezra Furman and The Harpoons. His last full-length was Perpetual Motion People in 2015. The latest album, Transangelic Exodus, is a brash and exciting piece of work that pushes the frontiers of rock and roll. If the album title suggests a heady subject matter will be explored, the music is there to match every step of the way. It’s flamboyant and raw at times, all the while being a vivid journey listeners are taken on.
Transangelic Exodus sounds like it was produced with one thing in mind: emotion. Songs take on dramatic twists and turns, and the album progresses through chapters that feel dark and moody and others more upbeat and warm. Furman’s voice is truly elastic and weaves through the different soundscapes with ease. It has that youthful, wavering tenor like that of singer Børns, but also a grittier side when pushed to its limits that can send shivers down a spine. His brand of indie rock, garage rock and other styles mixed together is a perfect crossroads where everything feels so alive. He has captured all the intensity and packaged it in tracks full of rich textures. Much of that comes from the use of distortion whether it’s the ubiquitous crunchy, drum sounds or heavy guitars and vocals.
In a sort of concept album style, the songs revolve around the story of an outlaw angel and Furman on the run from the government. It’s a loose metaphor for the upward struggle faced by the LGBTQ+ and marginalized groups in the nation. Lyrically, Furman covers so much and is imaginative and sharp. On “No Place,” his delivery is like that of a fiery sermon as he rebels against government authority. “Compulsive Liar” reveals a more diaristic style as he explains what it was like being a closeted, gender-non-conforming individual.
The album opens on an energetic note with “Suck the Blood From My Wound,” an almost five minute epic of buzzing power. It introduces the tale of his angel lover breaking out of a hospital and proceeding to lead police on a chase. It has got a classic rock touch à la Bruce Springsteen.“Driving Down to LA,” a sure stand-out track, begins with spooky bell tones that welcome listeners back into the narrative. In a stunning shift for the chorus, a giant block of distorted synths arrives with the force of a head-on collision. The sound is perfectly abrasive and Furman’s emphatic singing adds to the heightened drama.
“Love You So Bad” is the warm, sappy ballad that rounds out the diverse soundtrack. Staccato strings and Furman’s catchy melodies make for the most pop track on the record. The quiet, acoustic, “Peel My Orange Every Morning,” is Furman finding meditation in the average routine. He closes out with a light-hearted recounting on “I Lost My Innocence” with a retro-sounding chorus.
Transangelic Exodus is massive in scope and intention and hammers blistering sounds through intricate, well-thought-out production. Furman is both confessional and confident while connecting themes of love, sexuality and religion in a rollercoaster of emotion. It’s a truly modern work of art.