Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Unlike most writers of songs, Ezra Furman is able to articulately identify why he does what he does, what exactly he's trying to express and how all of it feels - really, truly feels - inside. It's not an assertion that he thinks too much about himself or that there's anything unbecoming of his nuanced and engaging indie rock songs. It's more to offer a better portrait, but one of a 22-year-old man who has the end figured out or at least a fuzzy version of the end figured out and now it's just the means that need to be deciphered. It's quite the accomplishment to have yourself fairly understood just past turning of legal drinking age. It's impressive and yet it sounds so impossible. Not so with Furman, a guy with a chipped tooth and quiet in conversation, who identifies with abstract ideals of beauty. It's not a beauty that gets the majority vote. It's a beauty that he himself has found himself to be extremely fond of through the years. It's as if he's been able to allow him self the freedom to just follow his nose or ears or eyes absently as they track a scent, sound or sight like a brainless hound dog, uncontrollably enslaved to how it's been programmed. It's as if he's had close to ten tours of duty over these hills and across these quandaries. It's as if he's done the goose chases and now no longer falls for the hooks and bait that these geese through out to catch his eye. Furman mixes the odd and sometimes prickly combination of Neil Young and Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah into his own voice, though that wasn't his doing. He brings about a countless number of thoughts and suggestions that come from the very heart of hearts, from the places in the soul that are never seen naked. These are the places that most people would be damned to let you into and yet Furman has found in himself not just a willingness to expunge and expose these thoughts, but to express them as impossibly engrossing insights that don't just take us inside his head, but into our own. And that's scary. Not horror movie scary, but scary in a way that is just enough entrancing and just enough eerie to make it feel like a special treat. But these aren't songs like the ones Mark Kozelek or Will Oldham writes. They aren't mysterious mazes and they aren't so cryptic and soft. The songs that Furman and his trio of Harpoons play are the kinds of songs that you would have gotten had Young or Van Morrison joined Operation Ivy or Nirvana. They are somewhat fuming, somewhat out of control, altogether brilliant and absolutely poignant. He says this about himself in his song descriptions, "We're just trying to capture beauty the way it sounds from the distant highway late at night, the way it taunts you and teases you, always satisfies you and always leaves you wanting more. I want to open my heart to you. That's the bottom line here," and there's no better way to describe Furman and his unique take on the world. He's found himself and inside that discovery are more than enough hidden alcoves of fascinating pieces of information about ourselves that we can leech onto. It's all for the good.