The Psychedelic Furs | Made of Rain | (Cooking Vinyl)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Don’t call the first new material in almost 30 years from the Psychedelic Furs a comeback … not really. That’s because the core band members – or at least singer/songwriter Richard Butler, brother bassist Tim and saxist Mars Williams – have been playing their hits and full albums since reconvening in 2001 after initially splitting in 1992. (We’ll leave the Butlers’ mid-’90s Love Spit Love project out of the discussion.)
Still, two decades is a long time without fresh Furs material. That’s rectified with the dozen originals comprising Made of Rain. While original guitarist John Ashton is MIA for this go-round, the band’s distinctive sound remains generally intact. Certainly the opening “The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll,” with its driving drums, swirling guitars, gritty sax and Richard Butler’s immediately recognizable baritone singing/moaning obliquely dark words like “A flight of crows my insect heart/The ticking veins this godless dark,” fits comfortably into the group’s sweet/sour spot.
Anyone concerned the Furs have abandoned the psychedelic impulses that comprise its name can rest assured those are adequately accounted for, especially in lead-off single “Don’t Believe” with its pounding drums, overdubbed vocals and overall ominous vibe.
Other selections like “No-One” nimbly balance the Furs’ more experimental, Roxy Music/David Bowie influences with forebodingly melodic choruses that reproduce the band’s characteristic sound. A few tunes like the dreary “Turn Your Back on Me” are more lumbering than graceful; the drifting “Tiny Hands” that aims for “More Than This” territory lands on the blander side of the Furs’ approach.
But even pedestrian Furs is a refreshing reminder of Richard Butler’s talents as a powerfully idiosyncratic singer, songwriter and UK musical visionary. Replacing some ballads with more upbeat selections would help this disc’s flow; it gets slightly repetitious over its 50-minute playing time. Regardless, there are enough resilient moments to make this a welcome, if long overdue, addition to the group’s impressive catalog. Hopefully it won’t take another three decades for its follow-up.