I 1st became aware of the Psychedelic Furs early in my youth as MTV played the hit single Love My Way – it might have been on 120 minutes or even during the regularly scheduled videos of the day, my memory is hazy. I was instantly hooked and began collecting every tape I could find by the band (I hear tapes are making a comeback these days). Along with the 1st Live record and the Pixies, the ‘Furs were my gateway to what they called “alternative music” back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Although I had 1st heard mid period ‘Furs with their eerie synths and otherworldly vocals, I gravitated towards the earlier records that had edgier guitar work.
The early years of the Psychedelic Furs veered closer to the Sex Pistols and the punk era than their later hits would lead you to believe. Don’t misinterpret what I am saying – I love just about every album and side project in the ‘Furs universe. But for a teenager looking to be connected in his isolation, those punk heavy records were what I identified closely to (and as a 37-year-old teenager, it still holds true). Snotty vocals, dissonant yet melodic sax (bringing to mind the great The Pop Group), and post-punk genius guitar riffs. When I heard that original guitarist John Ashton had a new group featuring a dizzying array of guest stars, I knew I had to give it a spin (or shuffle, as these times dictate). Luminaries from Mercury Rev, Killing Joke, Psychedelic Furs, Dead Boys, and The Turtles join core members Ashton and vocalist Fred Schreck for an invigorating album of post-punk gems.
I’ll be honest – I had a moment of uncertainty just before playing the album – what if it didn’t live up to earlier glories? I needn’t have worried so, this is an expertly produced record that hits on every level. Harder edged tracks leave the listener feeling exhilarated, whilst some of the quieter moments give pause for reflection. Is there an elephant in the room? Let’s get it out-of-the-way – Fred Schreck holds his own in comparison to the great Richard Butler. There is a definite ‘Furs vibe on several tracks, but Satellite Paradiso are forging new paths while retaining elements of the contributors’ past projects. All 10 tracks are immediately resonant and call for repeated plays.
Illusions spinning (album highlights)
Opening track Invisible is epic in scope – a brooding piece of nuance that toys with the listener’s emotions over the course of its 6:21 run time. A heavy atmosphere permeates and I’d have to say it is no coincidence that Jonathan Donahue from Mercury Rev contributes to this song. The chorus positively explodes “That’s the way the river flows / that’s the way it all explodes”. Fred Schreck’s vocals are perfect, wavering in and out of pointed aggression and sighing regret. Dream is a Psychedelic Furs reunion of sorts, in addition to John Ashton it also features ‘Furs alumni Roger Morris on guitar and Duncan Kilburn on sax. An angular (slight) power pop attack, it would slot in nicely on an early ‘Furs record. Situation is perhaps the heaviest tune on the record and I absolutely love it. It reminds me of Send era Wire – pure, unadulterated aggression. I believe this tune has the least amount of musicians on it, and you can feel the primal urgency shining through. “You wanna tell me all about the hand of fate / I got a little something for you and it ain’t a cake / take it”. Touch The Sky again features half of the Psychedelic Furs, is the song that was released with a video, and closes the album. A ballsy move to be sure, but the band backs up the swagger with another epic tune. The best Bowie tune that Bowie never wrote? Something like that. Smoky vocals and sax adding to the atmosphere, this is a perfect tune. A crescendo of emotion builds as the song progresses, riding the out the last 2 minutes of the song on an instrumental coda, guitars front & center. Perfect.
I can’t really say enough about this record – it is stunning. The 6 songs I didn’t talk about? Yeah, they are amazing too. You can pick up the record at all the major digital retailers. Follow the band on Facebook here and check out their website for the latest happenings.
Verdict: So Addictive
For Fans of: Psychedelic Furs, Wire, Echo & the Bunnymen, Gang of Four, Interpol, Mercury Rev
- Super Anti-Hero
- Big Block
- Bad Blood
- Touch The Sky