The Psychedelic Furs - Made of Rain Music Album Reviews

The British band’s first new album in 29 years is a rare commodity: a comeback record that’s refreshingly free of nostalgic gestures.

No performer in rock made bad faith as romantic as Richard Butler did. In the first incarnation of the Psychedelic Furs, the British singer issued pronouncements and put-downs with laryngeal splendor; the band matched him with a mighty saxophone-and-guitar racket like a foghorn raising clouds of toxic fumes from dirty carpets. Serious about being a dickhead, Butler constructed scenarios in which he maneuvers himself into the position of being rejected so he can claim the poor girl was wrong to have given him a chance anyway—that’s sort of the point to “Pretty in Pink,” an unflattering character sketch, ostensibly about a girl named Caroline, that’s really about Richard, “the last to remember her name.”
In the most delightful of surprises, Made of Rain, the Psychedelic Furs’ first new album in 29 years, ranks just a notch or two below post-punk classics like 1981’s Talk Talk Talk and 1982’s Forever Now. Expect no mummified mirror moves, though. Coming to terms with legacy acts often means pining for sequels. But in response to the question “What do the Psychedelic Furs mean in 2020?” the answer is simply, “Loud band with sardonic front man,” neither of which is in abundance in contemporary rock. Paul Garisto’s assured drumming and Mars Williams’ astutely deployed sax bleats are pleasures in themselves; thanks to former Love Spit Love colleague Richard Fortus’ robust mix, each instrument occupies a distinct space while still meshing into that familiar wall of sound. There’s some goop that wouldn’t have embarrassed the sodden Furs of 1986’s Midnight to Midnight (“Stars,” ick), but the goop sticks. Butler and bassist brother Tim can still write hooks, and Richard can still clear a room with rancid quips: “When I said I loved you and I lied/I never really loved you, I was laughing all the time,” he sneers in “Come All Ye Faithful.”

Exploiting Gen X memories and good will in the service of a futurist aesthetic that once hoped to “let it stay forever now,” the Psychedelic Furs have pulled off a neat dialectical trick. They included no “Pretty in Pink”s or “She Is Mine”s, and the album’s better for it. The thunderous Made of Rain opener “The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll” features Williams’ sax imitating the cawing of crows and Rich Good panning his guitar speaker to speaker while Butler self-mythologizes like Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve. The Furs excel at rummaging through trunkfuls of abandoned poses: Amanda Kramer’s keyboards channel “Venus in Furs” on “You’ll Be Mine,” and the full band produces a convincing imitation of Wish-era Cure in “No-One,” an observation that would surely pain Butler. The slippage into a narrative confessional mode is an uneasy fit on “Wrong Train,” but it’s worth sticking around for the sad-sack manner in which he notes he’s got a wife who hates him—and so does her boyfriend.

But here’s the thing: Cynics are sentimentalists, embittered because the world doesn’t follow the schemas in their heads. In the Furs’ warmest songs, Butler acknowledged how “knee-jerk negativity/Just never got me through.” Angling for an American breakthrough encouraged the Furs into glossier expressions of romantic interest, but the tension between the pristine synth patches and the hairballs Butler insisted on singing through kept audiences unsettled—and limited the Furs’ crossover chances to the top 30 placing of “Heartbreak Beat” a little over two years before the Cure and Depeche Mode went platinum. Free of such considerations, Made of Rain includes some of their most insistent love songs. On “Don’t Believe,” Butler gets entangled in a thicket of paradoxes and double negatives, determined not to look a fool when pledging his troth: “Everything I never said/Comes crashing on my tiny head.” Unburdened by nostalgia, accepting the world as is while avoiding complacency, Made of Rain isn’t a comeback—it’s a new road.
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The Psychedelic Furs - Made of Rain Music Album Reviews The Psychedelic Furs - Made of Rain Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, August 08, 2020 Rating:

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