The Psychedelic Furs make a long-awaited return to the music world with their eighth album, Made of Rain. It has been almost 30 years since their last studio recording, 1991’s World Outside. The new album’s 12 tracks fold time displaying a band that hasn’t lost a step during their long hiatus. They once again offer up an engaging amalgam of Dark Pop, Goth and Punk in their own unique way.
The Psychedelic Furs initially arrived on the Post Punk Scene in 1977 with the likes of notable musical acts such as Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, XTC, Tears for Fears, Simple Minds and eventual heavyweights U2 as Post Punk genre stablemates. They would forever be immortalized by John Hughes movies where their songs were frequently utilized and ultimately provided the title for the 1986 movie, Pretty in Pink. The Psychedelic Furs although never as big as U2 or The Cure would influence a great number of bands that would follow. Acts like REM, The Killers, Foo Fighters, The National and The Waterboys along with the vast Grunge scene would credit The Psychedelic Furs with inspiring their own works. In many ways, The Psychedelic Furs were the ultimate New Wave band personified by a dance-driven, angst expressing force that contained dense atmospheric walls of sound and wry lyrics that pulled no punches. There has been a revival and growing esteem for their early works as the band has re-emerged in recent years. Their songs have been utilized on the Academy Award-winning movie “Call Me By Your Name” soundtrack and the Netflix’s series “Stranger Things”. It has become evident that it is the time to unleash The Psychedelic Furs’ magical brand of musical brilliance once again.
Made of Rain was produced by Richard Fortus and mixed by Tim Palmer. The ever-present core of the band, frontman Richard Butler and his brother Tim return for the release. They have enlisted a group of former colleagues and new entrants to create the latest release with Mas Williams on saxophone, Paul Garisto on drums, Amanda Kramer providing keyboards and Rich Good on guitars.
Made of Rain will please and excite old Psychedelic Furs fans and draw in new listeners with its engaging lyrics and sonics. Butler and Co. have smartly moved from teenage angst to moody apt life examinations of middle-age ennui and the anxieties of our time. Throughout the album Butler does what he does best, supplying acerbic apt lyrics to describe the stresses of our era. Dry humour abounds and makes the album feel like it is taking up where the band left off in 1991. The Furs sound as fresh as if they have just stepped out of tissue paper into a different century. The quality of the album will leave older fans like myself wondering why it took so long for Butler and Co. to re-enter the studio, but also rejoicing all the same that there is finally new material. When compared to the past, the band displays an added maturity gained from the road travelled. Ironically the album slots in well with the some of The Psychedelic Furs’ fellow musical travellers; Echo and the Bunnymen, The Pixies and Jesus and the Mary Chain who have returned from long hiatuses to continue producing stellar albums.
Made of Rain Begins with “The Boy Who Invented Rock N’ Roll”. The frenetic opening delivers an atmospheric mixture of chattering beats and aggressive snarl. The omnipresent vocal kicks the door down to a welcomed comeback. Once again the listener is presented with Butler’s apt observant ennui as he effortlessly builds drama. It is a great opening track. “Don’t Believe” explodes with droning synths as the older listener realizes how much they missed Butler’s laser point observations. He takes a look at our current situation and declares our new Information Age bewildering. Butler has the audacity to suggest we were better off without the bread and circuses offered by YouTube, Twitter and their ilk. The dark and oppressive accompaniment is apt in portraying society being caught in the mire. Cynicism has always run high in Psychedelic Fur’s ethos and is found in spades throughout the album. The lyrics display how integrity is sold for a bag of silver and no one believes anything while disbelief is rampant with good reason.
“You’ll Be Mine” continues Butler’s engaging snark while he makes the suggestion that love is the only thing that can assuage the pain found in life. Even with that being the case love is only a glimmer of elusive hope in a sea of entropy. Butler is in great voice as he once again examines the human condition finding dissatisfaction and disappointment which is an overall theme found on just about every Psychedelic Furs disc.
“Wrong Train” is both literal and metaphorical in its examination on how we are making all the wrong decisions. This song filled with clarion guitars and glitching synths ponders how the narrator got it all wrong, “a wife that hates me, so does her boyfriend… where the hell are all my friends …I need you right now”. The song displays all the lyrical and musical qualities the Psychedelic Furs have had in spades since their inception.
The atmospheric “This Ill Never Be Like Love” harkens back to the Furs ability to utilize Saxophone effects to elicit emotion. There is interstellar goodness combined with a Goth dance track that makes this selection oh so enticing. The album really hits its stride for older fans with “Ash Wednesday and Come All Ye Faithful”, some of the finest tracks on the release. “Ash Wednesday” delivers this moody atmospheric poem utilizing a stream of consciousness observations. The song then shifts to a glittering bridge while Butler makes the suggestion, “close your crazy eyes and sing yourself to sleep, close your crazy mouth your words don’t mean a thing.” All meant to quell the disquiet of this insane world by shutting the world out. “Come All Ye Faithful” takes the title of a beloved Christmas Hymn and again discusses how the obedient are taken advantage of by the crass and greedy. Displayed is a blow upon a bruise where the devil and his ilk glory in laughing at the weak and earnest. Found is Butler’s almost trademark bitterness as he reveals the betrayal, “Come on ye playboys when I said I loved you, I lied, I never really loved you, I was laughing all the time.” Potent stuff that stays with the listener long after the album is over. These two tracks display why The Psychedelic Furs despite the John Hughes fluff were the forerunners of the Darkwave genre, delivering a hefty dose of angst and doubt.
This darkness is continued with “No One” with its searing guitar works as it discusses the temporariness of man. The track is a 21st-century version of Ozymandias put to music as kingdoms rise and fall and man and his actions fade into the sand. Time and its fickleness is again the topic of “Tiny Hands” The accompaniment sounds uplifting but the lyrics are as dark as treacle. Time is portrayed as chasing us to our end and Butler reminds us that we are only granted a finite amount of time so don’t fool around. “Hide the Medicine” is a rumination on how the drugs that are supposed to help us only seem to make us sick and more dependent. Butler makes the point that unless human nature changes no drug can make evil behaviour go away. These serious thoughts are again contrasted by a rather upbeat accompaniment that belies the heavy topic. The final track “Stars” is loaded with blipping synths and is an inspiring send off to the album. Strangely this is the most upbeat song of the release and it sizzles till the end leaving a lasting impression and a realization of what has been missing for the last 30 years with the Psychedelic Furs’ hiatus.
The return of The Psychedelic Furs with Made of Rain will cause those admirers of the band to regret it has taken this long for a new studio release. Richard Butler’s prescient observations are always welcome in helping to understand the madness of our existence. The sonics are as alluring as ever and time has only given a more alluring patina to the band’s prior works and new offerings. Made of Rain is a worthy addition to the existing Psychedelic Furs discography. It is a great first step back into the world of recorded music and hopefully, we will see continued new releases in the future.