Release Date: Jul 16, 2013
Record label: Bar/None Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock
After moving from Minty Fresh to Red Parlor, 2011's Mysterious Power showed a less rollicking side of Ezra Furman & the Harpoons, and for his first solo outing, The Year of No Returning, the frontman of the indie rock group relies on intimate, guitar-based songs. Comparisons to Dylan have followed the songwriter from the beginning, and here, with simple, folky arrangements (and guest musicians adding backing tracks by way of percussion, piano, upright bass, or strings), Furman's poignant lyrics are more prominent than ever. The Harpoons added a fun-spirited, chaotic element to his tunes, but even in this straightforward style, without the purposefully amateurish aesthetic, Furman's thoughtful songwriting style remains refreshingly distinctive.
Dropping the Harpoons and seeking a sound. When Ezra Furman and the Harpoons’ first record came out, there was a good argument to be made that the scene could actually use a dead-on Violent Femmes doppelganger. In a scene with a lot of yelp, to have the brand of yelp that comes with a blistering sense of humor and vaguely pervy garage-rock abandon was a good palate cleanser and a nice antidote to the last decades’ raft of monochromatic Englishmen in tight jeans.
Seconds into The Year of No Returning, it’s clear that Ezra Furman has left behind his last album with backing band The Harpoons. While there are still a few rollicking rock ‘n roll numbers like those on Mysterious Power, they’re given idiosyncratic twists, and they sit in the midst of completely new territory for the songwriter. He still has the same smirk, the same witty lyrics, the same eye on the dark edges of the world, but the scope of the instrumentals has expanded.
All by himself for the first time, songwriter Ezra Furman struck out in a lot of different ways on The Year of No Returning. He made the record shortly after dissolving Ezra and the Harpoons, his band since college, which had hit its critical high water mark with the 2011 release Mysterious Power. Moving back to Chicago, holing up in an attic studio, working with a revolving crew of local musicians, it all seemed to free him to work in a variety of styles.