Picks and Pans Review: Mirror Moves
The Psychedelic Furs
The Furs appeared in 1980 as one of the first bands to revive the '60s "psychedelic" sound. They were an intriguing step away from the minimalist rock dominating the record racks at the time. Producer Steve Lillywhite, who has helped give U2 such a lush texture, provided the Furs' first two albums with an intricacy—if not hyperactivity—that was grandiose and chaotic, but also appealing. With soaring guitars and quirky rhythms awash in dense layers, sound, the Furry sound grabbed the ear and forced it to listen, even if vocalist Richard Butler's sneering Johnny Rotten-esque voice was not the most ingratiating. On the Furs' last effort, Forever Now, studio guru Todd Rundgren stepped in to make things less pell-mell; the result was more focused but made ponderous by added instruments and beefed-up vocals. This time out, with percussionist Keith Forsey producing, the boys have enrolled in the less-is-more school, with mixed results. Having have pared their number even further (now down to three Furs from the original six), there is less happening—instrumentally, vocally and lyrically. Without the full (and overblown) treatments of the past, not much is left except pedestrian melodies, a thumping, rarely varying tempo and Butler's voice, a mixed blessing. Heartbeat and Like a Stranger are at least straightforward—the words are even understandable—but they plod. Only a Game and High Wire Days mix too many uninspired ingredients with too much confused energy. There is a saving grace: On The Ghost in You, things come together in a coherent whole, old excess meeting new restraint to good effect. Maybe David Bowie, rumored to be interested in producing the Furs, will teach the group what to put in and what to leave out. It would be a shame if the Furs' often piquant stew turned to sludge. (Columbia)
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