ART HAS the ability to resonate with, and speak meaningfully to, situations it was never conceived to address, and there are points on Ezra Furman's new album that feel as though is speaking about the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The world never goes back to the way it was, that's just not something the world does, but I'm holding on," he sings on opening track 'I'm Coming Clean', where realism and optimism are not viewed as antagonistic, but as essential to navigating life.
Further unintentional solace comes via 'La Madrugada', a song of togetherness and solidarity ("There's one way out and we're gonna find it" ) where the traditional blues lyric form is adapted to a swaying indie rock groove.
The album is the soundtrack to the Sex Education comedy-drama series on Netflix, but can be enjoyed regardless of whether you have seen it or not. As well as original material, it contains highlights from his 2015 breakthrough, Perpetual Motion People, and a spirited acoustic cover of LCD Soundsystem's 'I Can Change'.
Yet, the new tracks stand proudly on their own. Coming after the howl of rage of last year's Twelve Nudes, this is a more considered reflection. 'Amateur' is an inspiring call for openness, both to others and experience, in a world where assertion and maintaining frame are held more dearly than fact: "You don't have the whole thing preconceived...if you forget your vocabulary, you've got wings to fly."
Equally powerful is the sublime 'The Queen of Hearts', where the search for God is presented as a valid path, but never a journey towards narrow orthodoxy. Instead it requires, again, that willingness to be open to knowledge: "I've got my own search and I'm still just at the start...looking for the Queen of Hearts." (I also love the fact God is addressed in the Feminine! ).
The album also finds Furman exploring a variety of styles, from 1950s pop balladry ('Devil Or Angel' ), to Bo Diddely-esque workout ('At The Bottom Of The Ocean' ), to John Lennon goes glam ('Early Rain' ), while 'My Zero' is the best song MGMT never wrote.