Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion People


It’s not often you encounter a record that gets in your head and stays there, and despite repeated listens, remains fresh and and interesting. Perpetual Motion People is a collage of styles, from doo wop backing vocals, to Beach Boys-esque melodies (without the paedophilic undertones), punk rawness, to pop pep. Ezra Furman adds just the right amount of each to create an album or remarkable variety, while remaining cohesive.

Perpetual Motion People is overflowing with the infectious (‘Lousy Connection’ and ‘Haunted Head’), the poignant and affecting (‘Ordinary Life’ and ‘Can I Sleep in Your Brain’), and the downright raucous (‘Wobbly’ and ‘Hark! To The Music’). This creates an exhausting listening experience that feels complete and satisfying, with elements of every era of Bowie, and some T-Rex thrown in for good measure.

Furman has a knack for writing kooky lyrics that feel meaningful and connect on a deeper level than their surface wittiness, such as the Trayvon Martin trial themed:

So I’ve been working on this letter to congress
Regarding some things that I think they should address
Showed up in court wearing an Indian headdress
Somehow I think maybe the message was lost

Alongside Wilco’s Star Wars and Gaz Coombes’s Matador, this might be my favourite record of the year.

Recommendation: Mandatory

Helsinki – A Guide for the Perplexed


A Guide for the Perplexed harks back to the late 90s, early 00s, but without ever sounding derivative. It brings together melodies and ivory tickling reminiscent of Badly Drawn Boy, with some frantic moments that remind me of Space.

Opener, and lead single, Rising Heights begins as a fairly straight-forward piece of post-Britpop strumming, before the chorus and middle 8 open into a more driven and powerful soundscape. This sets the tone for the whole record. It is comforting and familiar, but confounds expectations, without losing its sense of breeziness, even in the darker moments.

The stand out tracks are “Keys” with Emma Gillespie, the Combat Rock era Clash-esque “Choices” with Pete Doherty, and “The Batteries Weren’t Dead” with Albert Hammond Jr. The rest of the tracks are strong, but these three, as well as the lead track, give the album a unique texture that takes Babyshambles’s Drew McConnell’s solo project beyond the usual singer-songwriter fare.

Recommendation: Mandatory