❉ The Furs’ first latter-day album proves there was always more to their music than the hits.
It’s disconcerting to think that more time has passed since the last Psychedelic Furs album than had elapsed between the group’s MTV breakthrough Love My Way and the original ‘British Invasion.’ All jokes related to “hope I die before I get old” and other famous expressions of rock music’s devotion to youth aside, milestones like this spark a mental disconnect. As good as their early-80s singles were, no one seriously envisioned the Rolling Stones would still be performing well into the 21st century, and the idea that newer bands like the Furs would also be doing so these days seemed only slightly more plausible.
Both cases point to a dilemma for fans. However many decades one’s fandom numbers, you still want them to be the band you loved. At the same time, if nothing’s changed but the song titles, what’s the point of a new album? The Psychedelic Furs have largely avoided that question. Even their slickest albums, Mirror Moves and Midnight to Midnight, were still variations on their core approach rather than outright departures, and while the hiatus from recording kept their body of work relatively small, it also sidestepped the prospect of any substandard albums.
As the first latter day Psychedelic Furs album – coming nearly 30 years after the underrated World Outside – Made of Rain has considerable potential to satisfy longtime fans. How susceptible they’ll be to it almost certainly correlates to the depth of their fandom for the band. If the 1988 compilation All of This and Nothing is the limit, this album might not register as deeply. They will, however, have no question about it being the work of the same band.
The opening song, The Boy Who Invented Rock and Roll, is lyrically grandiose, but also establishes from the outset that singer Richard Butler retains the attitude to sell the sentiment. It’s followed by Don’t Believe, whose lyrical counsel that “you can’t believe in anything” recalls the early Furs song No Tears. Amid all the personnel changes since that older song, Richard Butler and his brother Tim remain at the core of the band but aren’t the only current members to have a long history with it. Saxophonist Mars Williams played with the group for most of the 1980s and adds a great deal to the texture of the record, especially on This’ll Never Be Like Love.
Made of Rain truly hits its stride midway through with Richard Butler’s lyrical collisions on Ash Wednesday and the similarly strong Come All Ye Faithful and No One. Those are followed by a pair of songs that highlight the band’s melodic strengths. After the more conventionally lovely Tiny Hands, Hide the Medicine makes its lilting melody sound almost fierce – highlighting the production work by Richard Fortus, Richard Butler’s collaborator in the band Love Spit Love who also performed with the Furs for a time.
If there’s an apparent weakness to the album, it lies in the absence of a killer single. As good as the aforementioned songs are, none of them feel essential to the perception of the Psychedelic Furs the way Pretty In Pink or The Ghost In You or even Until She Comes do. To some extent, though, that’s less of an aesthetic judgement than a commentary on the nature of perception. Privileging the established – the songs that have worked their way into one’s consciousness – is almost inevitable, especially when it’s the music of your youth.
Whatever else can be said about Made of Rain, it deserves praise for demonstrating that there was always more to the Furs’ music than just a selection of radio-friendly high points. The band themselves likewise merit praise for their willingness to prove that point at a time when many of their peers have little to offer beyond nostalgia.
❉ ‘Made Of Rain’ is released 31 July, 2020, through Cooking Vinyl Records. Gatefold double 12” vinyl, CD, cassette and digital download with exclusive and signed items available from the band’s Official Store. A single, ‘Don’t Believe,’ is available to stream now and download when you preorder the album from HERE . Social: OFFICIAL | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM
❉ Don Klees has spent many years in the video business. This continues to enrich his life in many ways, chief among them being able to tell people he watches television for a living. An avid consumer of pop – and sometimes not-so-popular – culture, Don is a regular contributor to We Are Cult.