The Psychedelic Furs current lineup features Amanda Kramer (ex-Information Society) as well a Mars Williams (ex-The Waitresses).
It’s been 29 years since The Psychedelic released a studio album. Their only release since 1991 has been a live album from 2001 called Beautiful Chaos: Greatest Hits Live, which featured one new studio track, “Alive (For Once in My Life).”
After taking a break in 1992, the band reformed in 2000 and have been touring steadily ever since. Plans were in place shortly after the reunion to record new music, but chief songwriter and lead vocalist Richard Butler didn’t feel confident in any of the new material until just recently.
The question, of course, is what Psychedelic Furs would we get? Early, rockier, Furs or proper new wave, synthy, Furs? Turns out it’s mostly the former. The first single, “Don’t Believe” is very much the wall-of- sound style the band first thrust upon our ears back in 1979.
Similarly, “You’ll Be Mine,” also slated to be a single, is layered beautifully and features a great sax hook by the fabulous Mars Williams. Playing over the chugging guitar, it comes together nicely. Speaking of Williams, chief Fur Richard Butler, and brother Tim, really let their sax player loose. He also features on the opener, “The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll,” favoring the listener with what sounds like a soprano sax being played somewhat randomly, yet providing a cool hook.
“Come All Ye Faithful” looks like it might also be released as a single, which isn’t a bad call. Again, it’s very back-to-basics Furs but with a bluesy twinge. Mars Williams brings his tenor sax to this one too, evoking Branford Marsalis circa Sting’s Dream of the Blue Turtles.
The best track, though, and what should be the next single, is “Wrong Train.” Butler’s vocal soars as he wails, “I’m never coming home again,” through what sounds like a filter borrowed from The Strokes. Good stuff.
Sadly, if you’re looking for Mirror Moves: Part 2 this ain’t it. As that’s one of my favorite albums ever, I’m a little let down from that aspect. However, most of the core Furs fandom is very much in the wall-of-sound Furs camp, as far as I can tell, and not the synthy goodness of Forever Now and Mirror Moves. “Tiny Hands” comes closest, starting off with a soft piano and a lightly flangey guitar.
“Hide the Medicine” has a weirdly tropical feel covering territory the Furs haven’t really ventured into previously. It sounds out of place while at the same time, fitting in beautifully.
No matter what you were expecting, Made of Rain was worth the wait.
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.