Ezra Furman - All of Us Flames Music Album Reviews

Ezra Furman - All of Us Flames Music Album Reviews
Returning to familiar sounds of vintage girl groups and rock’n’roll, Ezra Furman writes trans pride and existential fear into an album that reveals the full strength of her vulnerabilities.

As she’s cycled through album-length homages to doo-wop and conceptual projects about falling for an angel, Ezra Furman has traced how she sees herself in real time. On 2019’s raucous, political Twelve Nudes, Furman most clearly linked her themes of rebellion and transgression with her personal journey. On the ballad “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend,” she let her guard down entirely, musing about changing her name and reconfiguring personal desire. In the years since, she came out as a trans woman, scored Netflix’s Sex Education, and became a mother. Her latest album, All of Us Flames, feels like the most complete picture yet of Ezra Furman as a songwriter: genres fluidly co-existing with one another, projecting a fearless image while struggling with her own internal fearfulness.

Furman has long drawn on older forms of rock and folk music, revitalizing traditional song forms by inserting queer narratives deserving of the same canonization. The bluesy chord progression of opener “Train Comes Through” enters into folk’s long tradition of train songs, but Furman’s lyrics advocate for those written out of history: “It’s not written in your Bibles/It’s a verse behind the verse/Only visible to an obsessive detail-oriented heathen Jew.” In the absence of a sacred text, she resolves to write her own in “Book of Our Names,” continuing a parallel from her past music between trans oppression and Jewish Exodus. Not every song is so heavy: “Forever in Sunset” pays homage to early Bruce Springsteen, recontextualizing his escapist yearning for a pandemic-damaged world: “Do you remember when you thought the world was ending?/Seems funny now.” For once, there’s a way out, or at least a momentary reprieve as Furman turns to queer love as salvation: “You’ve got me in your arms/Maybe that’s all we need for warmth.”

In producer John Congleton (who also mixed Twelve Nudes), Furman’s found a collaborator equally interested in pushing conventional rock tropes to their limits. Congleton’s proclivity for raw, distorted recordings can sometimes overwhelm, but Furman meets it with equal intensity. The surreal dynamic shifts and lush synths of “Lilac and Black” maximize Furman’s anthemic songwriting, while the girl-group homage “Dressed in Black” blows out the drums and vocals until they sound like they’re playing from worn-down vinyl. “Poor Girl a Long Way From Heaven” shifts away from acoustic instrumentation, winding up at an unexpected combination of Future Islands’ yacht-pop and Perfume Genius’ art rock; somehow, that naturally suits Furman’s tenor vocals as well as punk rock and doo-wop.

Yet the focus remains Furman’s characteristically verbose lyrics, and beneath her growing confidence lie new layers of paranoia. On “Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club,” Furman tackles the phenomenon known as “gender envy,” yearning to become the person she watches on VHS: “I watch her flicker on my TV/The teenage girl I never got to be.” (The unspoken punchline: Sheedy’s Breakfast Club character, Allison, ultimately gets the kind of feminine makeover demanded by the same systems Furman wishes to dismantle.) The out-of-character warble in Furman’s voice on “I Saw the Truth Undressing” suggests another repressed desire: She watches, frozen, as the object of her affection disrobes, but because trans desire is so pathologized, Furman’s narrator is afraid to indulge the voyeurism. When she rallies a “queer girl gang” against the epic build of “Lilac and Black,” the call to solidarity is shadowed by the warning that “we might not make it back.”

Even when she lets listeners in on her internal questioning, Furman’s music sounds confident because it has to be. As passionately as All of Us Flames dreams of escape, it’s bound to a dystopian reality, where even the dreamiest, most abstract songs aren’t immune from fear. The closest thing to a found utopia comes on “Temple of Broken Dreams,” where Furman again ties her Jewish faith to her trans identity, two “tribes of travelers scattered across the map” and hungry for connection. The characters on “Dreams” are too traumatized to reach that better world, only “a collection of the shards that you can save,” but they keep trying anyway.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ezra Furman - All of Us Flames Music Album Reviews Ezra Furman - All of Us Flames Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on September 02, 2022 Rating: 5


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