Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Restless Year” by Ezra Furman from the 2015 album Perpetual Motion People on Bella Union.
Although his music owes a great deal to folk tradition, Ezra Furman’s pointed lyrical voice and sense of humor sets him refreshingly apart from his serious, often-bearded contemporaries. With his then-backing band The Harpoons, Furman and the group recorded their debut Beat Beat Beat in their college dorm. Across their next three albums, Furman and the Harpoons gathered a following in North America, but it was his second solo album, 2013’s Day of the Dog, that brought him a wider audience as the album swept up a wave of critical acclaim, especially in the United Kingdom. Now performing with his new backing band The Boyfriends, this year’s Perpetual Motion People, was Furman’s first release on Bella Union and was once again met with rave reviews in the UK, as well as an increase in profile in his native North America. The first thing to note about “Restless Year” is that it has a breezy, effortless chorus. The second thing to note about “Restless Year” is that it is absolutely exhilarating in its ricocheting, manic quest for answers to as many questions Furman can pose in the song’s brisk two-and-a-half minutes. Furman spouts off lyric after lyric like a street preacher trying to evangelize to the passersby, except it’s his own soul he’s trying to save. By the time he rolls around to the song’s final verse – punctuated with manic shouts of “Death!”, naturally – Furman’s given his sermon (and successfully used “Dostoyevsky” in a lyric) and whether he’s screaming the Gospel at the nodding-off choir or a megachurch on the edge of their collective pew doesn’t matter: “Restless Year” is a thrilling dash through Furman’s conscious that doesn’t really reach any conclusions and it’s all the better for it.
Ezra Furman will continue touring behind Perpetual Motion People through the rest of the year, with a slate of European dates already set for the fall. If he announces another North American trek, that news will be on his Facebook and website. Below, watch the Joe Brett-directed clip for “Restless Year”.