The Psychedelic Furs

Published on August 3rd, 2017

The Psychedelic Furs

Psychedelic Furs | by Serge Levin

It took a second recording of their single “Pretty in Pink” and a friendship with “Brat Pack” director John Hughes to cement the postpunk ambition and romantic vision of new wave survivors the Psychedelic Furs. The band’s hit 1981 album, “Talk Talk Talk,” which featured “Pink” and the sneering track “Dumb Waiters,” gave the Furs clout among hardcore punk adherents, but it was their glossy reimagining of “Pretty in Pink,” re-recorded for the same-titled Hughes movie, that delivered the band to the realm of ‘80s flashback playlists.

As a result, “Pretty in Pink,” mark deux, landed the Furs its biggest U.S. Billboard hit in 1986. Which is why the band, forged in the raw muck of the ‘70s British post-punk scene (The Cure, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order), spent the mid-1980s evolving its sound. The band took its suave, ferocious guitar solos and raspy wail of singer Richard Butler and his brother, bassist Tim, and replaced it with a synthy, radio-friendly veneer, best captured in followup singles such as “Heartbreak Beat.” The Psych Furs continued bridging post-punk and new wave until its last album, 1991’s “World Outside,” before disbanding in the early 1990s.

But when the brothers Butler reconstituted the group in 2000 and began touring its older material, fan response convinced Tim and Richard to plunge deeper into the band’s back catalog. Now, the 2017 version of the Furs, reassuringly, is still as sonically aggressive as ever, conjuring up a sound filled as much with bittersweet New Wave flamboyance as postpunk melancholy. At recent concerts, the Butlers have been touring with new saxophonist Mars Williams, drummer Paul Garisto, keyboardist Amanda Kramer and guitarist Rich Good, combining hits and rarities from earlier albums (“Forever Now,” “Mirror Moves”).

The Furs have also been road-testing new music, part of a long-gestating new album the Butlers have tinkered with since 2004, which means the band’s Aug. 9 performance at the Culture Room may include the Furs’ newest music in 25 years. New music is always a good thing, but the Psychedelic Furs have endured the longest when they’re in a constant state of reinvention.

The Psychedelic Furs will perform Wednesday, Aug. 9, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.
~ John Doane

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