Ezra Furman: Transangelic Exodus review – tales of a gender-non-conforming star
A strong theme emerges from this pointedly titled album, which, according to US songwriter Ezra Furman, is “a combination of fiction and a half-true memoir . . . a personal companion for a paranoid road trip. A queer outlaw saga.” His use of the word “saga” implies some kind of never-ending personal travelogue or soap opera that eventually fails to capture the imagination, but there’s actually none of that here.
Rather, across 13 songs that are genetically assembled from bits and pieces of Beck, Velvet Underground, 1950s rock’n’roll, Vampire Weekend, NYC punk and Kendrick Lamar, Furman clarifies what it’s like for “a gender-non-conforming” person to live in a society that is becoming more authoritarian and distrustful.
Very fine songs such as Compulsive Liar and Maraschino-Red Dress $8.99 at Goodwill (each of which address issues of coming out) lay alongside Driving Down to LA, God Lifts Up the Lowly, and I Lost My Innocence (which focus on faith, gender radicalisation, and what Furman describes as “the fear of fascist takeover”). The end result is a themed collection of serious subject matter phrased in music styles that are part brittle, part audacious, and never less than forceful.