Album Review: Ezra Furman – ‘Transangelic Exodus’

Finally, after the release of three singles, and an early announcement, Ezra Furman brings us Transangelic Exodus. Although this is technically Ezra’s eighth album, the newly named Ezra Furman and The Visions has taken a dramatic new path with Transangelic Exodus. Ezra has drifted away from his previously folk, rock and roll influences of Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground, and has strived for a more experimental, psychedelic take on rock and roll. Although Ezra has lost the urgency felt by music enthusiasts to see live the perfectly imperfect blend of the harmonica, saxophone and percussion, Transangelic Exodus has created something utterly unique by voicing the beautiful and courageous traits of the angelic trans-community.

Despite its vast differences to his previous work, we can spy the repeated beginning of I Wanna Destroy Myself in God Lifts Up the Lowly; the haunting strings accompanied by a powerful repeated drum beat is the perfect enticement to the albums unheard tracks. The album continues with the beautifully unpredictable No Place, demonstrating the current-day ferociousness of The Wedding Present’s percussion, with the addition of Ezra’s soft, vulnerable vocals. Ezra is clearly determined to display an androgynous vocal in his latest work to tie in with the albums message of the hidden superiority and ambiguousness of Transangelic individuals. The outburst of merciless drumming is a frequent occurrence, as we later see in Peel My Orange Every Morning, a touching narrative of the views of oneself with the clever comparison to the titled citrus fruit, demonstrated in the line “I am a citrus, peel back my skin, open me and expose the soft, wet inside”.

One of the most interesting pieces of music on the album is Maraschino Red-Dress $8.99 at Goodwill”; it’s manic and exciting use of instruments, wolf-like screeches, and borderline hallucinogenic keys, creates an electrifying listen, and an insight into the mind of Ezra Furman. Maraschino Red-Dress $8.99 at Goodwill is lyrically empowering too in its deliberation of the unspoken laziness of human nature, particularly in the clever though obvious lyric I am hideous and no one can ever know. Ezra bizarrely ends the album with I Lost My Innocence,  a track demonstrating more similarities to his previous work rather than the albums entirety. I Lost My Innocence is playful, charming, and expresses great vulnerability, such as in the line “I lost my innocence to a boy named Vincent”.

Whilst we sadly say goodbye to Ezra’s modern take on folk-rock, such as in “Take Off Your Sunglasses” and “Pot Holes”, it is certainly intriguing and exciting to witness Ezra Furman and The Visions’ sharp, original and fierce take on psychedelic rock. If you are new to the great force and talent of Ezra Furman, think the powerful and imperfect vocal of Neil Young, the crashing force of The Velvet Underground, with the frontman-ship of a fearless, yet vulnerable young David Bowie.