It’s hard not to like Ezra Furman, for the same reason it’s hard not to like a golden retriever puppy: the sheer enthusiasm and sincerity (not to mention those soulful eyes) are just too powerfully endearing to resist.
I realize this might give the wrong impression of Furman, the Chicago-born (but now San Francisco Bay Area-based) musician, singer, and songwriter who’s just released his third solo album, Perpetual Motion People (Bella Union). He’s not cutesy, he’s just emotional and earnest in a style that recalls Belle and Sebastian (when he’s being mellow) or Jonathan Richman (when he’s rocking out). He’s rocking out most of the time, but it’s his version of rocking out sometimes includes 1950s Bill Haley-style bobby sox pop or 1970s fuzzy guitar. It all depends on the song.
On this one, “Restless Year,” Furman and his band blast out a poppy, punky ode to a busy day in the city (the video was shot in a variety of Bay Area locations), filmed in one continuous/spliced-together shot that follows Ezra as he changes outfits, persuses bookstores, slides down a grassy hill and offers passionate shout-outs to his “Five-dollar dress!” his “Bus pass!” and on the chorus proclaims: “Death! Is my former employer! Death! Is my own Tom Sawyer! Death! Waits for me to destroy her, I never wanna die and never grow old! Yeah!”
It’s a terrific video that perfectly expresses the kinetic energy of this twenty-first century Pee Wee Herman of a performer: sweet, weird, and a little kinky. Ezra Furman is an adorable badass. Don’t miss him.
Buzzy Jackson's newest book is "The Inspirational Atheist: Wise Words on the Wonder and Meaning of Life" (Penguin/Plume). She writes for the Boston Globe and on her own blog at BuzzyJackson.com. Buzzy lives in Boulder, Colorado and she believes that, some day, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey will get back together.
They just have to.