The Psychedelic Furs “Talk Talk Talk”

CBS 1981

To me, The Psychedelic Furs represent the best of the John Hughes generation, a time when the 80’s swagger was just becoming apparent but the production of the music had not yet gone completely south. Since “Talk Talk Talk” is from 1981, this album is even further removed from the tinny 80’s gloss that eventually took over in the popular sound.

With that said, “Talk” is certainly not the best Furs album in the way of tunes (that award would have to go to 1982’s Todd Rundgren-produced “Forever Now”), but it’s no lightweight, either. As a record, it takes a lot of chances–for instance, the opening track “Dumb Waiters” may be one of the oddest of its kind in history, with its heavy Eastern feel and awkward melodies. There’s something compelling about it, though, and it gives way to one of the band’s best songs, “Pretty In Pink”. To this day, even with the Hughes stigma that surrounds it, the song stands on its own as a classic. I think this is because, though it may have been a minor hit back in its day, it hasn’t crossed over to today’s radio play so much. It didn’t become one of those totally overplayed jams that we’ve heard a million times, and I’m not sure why–it’s a really amazing song.

“Into You Like A Train” is also badass, not only for its brilliant innuendo, but for its driving rhythms and its smart use of a horn section. This was also right around the time when the sax was really coming back into pop music, and eventually that would be more than regrettable. The Furs use it a lot on this record, but it never feels forced or gratuitous, and they don’t really use it enough for it to get old.

Richard Butler’s raspy, cigarette-soaked delivery could be a bit off-putting for first time listeners of the Furs, but it’s one of those voices that makes more sense the more it is heard. It gives the Furs, who otherwise sound almost impeccable musically, a much-needed rawness. Butler is most certainly a frontman, too, with an obvious wit and the perfect personality for this music.

In short, “Talk Talk Talk” contains more than a few great songs, a couple of which are classics. It’s the product of a band teetering on the verge of a breakthrough, which makes for odd and wonderful moments. ***1/2

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One Response to “The Psychedelic Furs “Talk Talk Talk””

  1. Bewlay Says:

    I think “Talk Talk Talk” is the Furs’ best album, though “Love My Way” has to be their best single (and “Forever Now” is pretty darn good).

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