Active in the music scene since 2006, Ezra Furman has a wealth of recorded music and has established themself solidly in the punk rock genre, particularly in the queer community. Their breakout work, “Day of the Dog,” released in 2013, and they have released five critically acclaimed albums since then, including the soundtrack for Netflix’s 2019 show, “Sex Education.”
As their first work since the “Sex Education” soundtrack, “All of Us Flames” was released to a growing audience and a positive critical reception. This newest album retains Furman’s folk-punk sound while depicting a number of their struggles as a transgender person in intimate detail.
The opening track, “Train Comes Through,” features little harmonic movement and a driving but light backbeat with a consistent shaker giving it a train-like sound. Each verse ends with a warning of what will happen “when the train comes through.”
This train appears to represent monumental change that will shake apart the antiquated structure plaguing the city described in the song. Furman illustrates a great machine whose end is spelled by the thundering train of change. It’s a deeply powerful image and a bold beginning to “All of Us Flames.”
Furman continues exploring the theme of change on “Throne.” The verses are accompanied by a bassline reminiscent of a pounding heart with a single, unchanging note played on every beat. Although the bass stays stagnant, the acoustic guitar chords change over the top of it, joined by low brass.
This makes the bass occasionally clash with the guitar harmony, creating a feeling of unease in the verse. During the chorus, it plays along with the guitar, creating a much clearer texture and a satisfying contrast.
“Point Me Toward The Real” takes the tone down a notch, opening with sparse drums layered with delay and swelling horns to create an ethereal, floaty soundscape persisting throughout the track. The drums become busier and the horn harmonies more prominent, but the intensity is unaffected, remaining serene and laid-back.
The lyrics describe the narrator’s first day out of a psychiatric institute, being picked up by a friend and driven around town. Furman illuminates the loneliness of an extended stay in one of these institutions, being abandoned and forgotten by friends and family. It’s a bleak but somewhat hopeful scene, with the musical texture complementing the peaceful moonlit drive.
“Ally Sheedy In The Breakfast Club” retains this uncomplicated structure, with a low-fidelity, skipping harmony reminiscent of the VHS tapes Furman references. The song discusses a specific piece of Furman’s journey with her gender, specifically her jealousy of Ally Sheedy’s character in “The Breakfast Club.”
They describe an intense relation to the character, calling her “the teenage girl I never got to be,” and feeling a deep connection to her aesthetic and demeanor. Despite the specificity of this experience, the song offers a vulnerable and raw look into Furman’s journey as a transgender person, and one that is deeply relatable to members of that community.
Furman doesn’t do much experimenting on “All Of Us Flames.” Sonically, it remains largely reminiscent of her previous work and the thematic elements at play will be familiar to fans, but they don't feel the need to reinvent the wheel. They embrace their gritty sound while providing heart-wrenching insights into their own life, poetic enough to affect the listener. “All Of Us Flames” is just another step in that direction.