Album #204: The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • Best Track: Hide the Medicine

I’ve never really understood why the Psychedelic Furs don’t quite have the cool factor that many of their post-punk and new wave contemporaries enjoy today. They’re rarely cited as an influence by modern bands, even though they must have been an indirect one at least. Most of their fans seem to be people old enough to have lived through their peak, and I imagine that if I saw them live, I’d be one of the youngest there at 36.

This is despite the fact that they wrote great songs, and tackled some then taboo themes in ways that were way ahead of their time. Early ’80s hit ‘Love My Way’, though mainstream enough to have featured in the 1998 romantic comedy The Wedding Singer, was originally written in sympathy with the gay community, while songs like ‘Pretty in Pink’ and ‘Into You Like a Train’ could be seen as questioning male attitudes towards women.

Then there’s Richard Butler’s coarse, smoke-ravaged voice. I once read an interview where Butler said that despite having done it for much of his life, he doesn’t really consider himself a singer, more just someone who has made a success of his own voice. Interestingly, at the age of 64, Butler’s vocals sounds more expansive and technically proficient than I’ve ever heard them before on Made of Rain – the Furs’ first album in nearly 30 years.

With a slightly new line-up, this is clearly an album where a considerable thought and effort has gone into its construction. In truth, I probably need a bit more time to listen to it before bashing out a review (not least because I’ve been hammering Fontaine’s D.C. over the last two days), but among the tracks that stand out is ‘Wrong Train’. This is partly due to Butler’s vocal performance, but I also wonder if this is a riposte ‘Into You Like a Train’, written nearly 40 years ago, as Butler laments his failed marriage and loneliness (“A wife that hates me/So does her boyfriend”). It’s immediately followed by ‘This’ll Never Be Like Love’, as Butler continues to captivate the listener in his romantic numbness.

On a record strong from start to finish, ‘Hide the Medicine’ perhaps takes the crown of the best track, with its spellbinding hooks and multi-vocalist chorus of “Your mother said you’re beautiful to me”, as Butler again seems to allude to family conflict with brutal honesty.

I feel like recent weeks have seen a “sound of 2020” develop – one of isolation and confusion, but also resolution. Made of Rain dovetails in with this perfectly and is a triumphant return.

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