Arcane Alley 2021
They talked, they danced, they’re back to their devices once more: American rebels mature but refuse to grow up.
A mere two full-length albums in more than four decades may mean either nefarious non-conformism or predatory unprofessionalism, yet the forty-odd years of dirty deeds testify to the former rather than latter. Still, it’s extremely difficult to stylistically place “Again” – the ensemble’s third effort that takes THE FURYS from punk they used to be associated with to psychedelia via pop, and peppers the present duo’s parochial-to-panoramic points of view with righteous noise. Or so it seems at a cursory glance.
While this record’s songs won’t always pinch your nerve, they are able to puzzle the feeble-minded pogo-punters as, for all their occasional briefness, some cuts refer to literary sources which require a deeper dive into existential affairs – as suggested by “It’s The Day That Was That Nearly Wasn’t” that basks in glorious brass, trying to embrace the cinematic, Bondiana-like vibe – so there’s “Please, Mr. Kafka” to rock and roll freely, and the lysergic layers of “Miss Havisham Regrets” to dust off Dickensian lore, thanks to Jonathan Sheldon’s ivories and violin. If infectious opener “Tightrope Walking” elegantly bounces on a bass line and Jeff Wolfe’s vocal polyphony, and the relentless “Anna, Come Home” rides a rough riff, the pseudo-orchestral “Glitter Bomb” sprinkles its melody’s piano-propelled melancholy with funky guitar and “Gotta Grow Up” directs its optimistic stomp towards tasty glam-rock, to guarantee logical variety and diversify the flow.
However, whereas the bleary jangle of “New Wave Girl” is compromised with acoustic strum, and the insistent, tribally entrancing, BLM-focused closer “Afraid” is connected to our here-and-now, the floating sonics of “Worthy” will lead the listener into a crystalline fantasy. And then there’s a cosmically retro rhythm-and-blues of “Action Reaction” whose harmonica is bound to soothe one’s anxiety and smooth reality’s edges. So maybe it’s good to deliver the goods not as often as aficionados want; maybe it keeps the viewpoint clear.