In 2015, Ezra Furman, gained exposure for his infectious single, Restless Year, taken from his last album, Perpetual Motion People. Ezra is an interesting and exciting individual. He is an out, “gender non-conforming, Shabbat-observing (Jew)” with an elating live rapport. The question is: Will Transangelic Exodus provide Furman with the spiritual musical growth he has the potential to accomplish?
Album opener, Suck The Blood From My Wound instantly catches the listener hook, line and sinker. Primarily a Pop rock song; nonetheless a Pop rock song created organically and fuelled by innovation and imagination. Whilst commanding to be danced to, the lyrics require spiritual reflection. “We’re making time, we’re making progress. But progress towards what? Your fallen feathers fill up two shopping bags. The future’s breathing down the neck of the past. And the sun throws a shit-eating shine on the moon.” Suck The Blood From My Wound concludes with building haunting and aggressive static; ending with Ezra growling a quote from Romeo and Juliet: A plague on both your houses!
Despite the previous intense chaos and hysteria, track two, Driving Down to L.A, opens placidly with Kraftwerk inspired keys; before an abrupt key change where the intense welcoming haunting returns. God Lifts up the Lonely follows, the most electronic free track on Transangelic Exodus; except for the vocal distortions as the track concludes; reminiscent of Radiohead’s, Everything in Its Right Place.
Transangelic Exodus is abundant with surprises towards unexpected destinations. Compulsive Liar begins with an innovative human drum machine beat, reminiscent to Michael Jackson’s Stanger in Moscow; amidst a backdrop of bass and cello, where Furman discusses the challenges of being open about his sexuality. Ezra also uses 1980’s inspiration in Maraschino-Red Dress $8.99 at Goodwill, to express his concern that he “don’t think I’ll be showing up at Synagogue at quarter past seven.”
Come Here Get Away From Me, a Jack White inspired folk, blues and country musical cocktail makes the perfect track for an unorthodox Western soundtrack. Ezra uses it for personal reflection: I believe in God but I don’t believe we’re getting out of this one unless somebody pays for the things I’ve done. No Place opens with the energetic bustling of multiple drums as if Ezra was leading a New Year’s Day Parade with a troop of trumpeters. His lyrical delivery is exceptionally passionate, questioning: How long will we (babble on) in exile?
Transangelic Exodus is evidently about painful experiences, micro and macro problems; however, there is also hope and optimism. Transangelic Exodus concludes with I Lost My Innocence (plot spoiler “to a boy named Vincent”), is an upbeat joyful Motown themed song reminiscent to The Supremes, Baby Love, with a spontaneous guitar solo ensuring the album ends on a happier note (even though the piano keys will also remind you of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black).
Transangelic Exodus is a pinnacle in Ezra’s career because he refuses to be content with agreed and established definitions of subject matters. For example, Ezra Furman has said “being queer… doesn’t have to be about sexuality or gender. It could be about other things like a disability or a racially charged experience. Being marginalised and how that can change you: that’s the subject of the album in a big way.” This album makes many seemingly unnecessary and unexpected changes in direction which nonetheless always end up leading to a better place. It would be criminal to list each change here. Regardless of whether one is Caucasian or not, transgender or “trans-ish”, self-defined or labelled by society as being “queer” or not; Transangelic Exodus is a defining record for everyone.