Get film director Terry Gilliam on the blower – this one’s a doozy. Transangelic Exodus is a “queer outlaw saga” in which our hero, Chicagoan art punk Ezra Furman, is chased across country by Nazi gangs and government agents for the crime of falling in love with someone who has had wings surgically stitched on to become a ‘transangel’. Oh, and it’s a “half-true memoir”, apparently.
The trans persecution and emancipation metaphors of this, Furman’s seventh album, might be fairly upfront, but the album itself is a trickier beast than his previous cranky-but-oddly-digestible retro-modern records. The frenzied Modern Lovers getaway of Suck The Blood From My Wounds gives way to a series of dislocated sonic vignettes veering from junk-shop chamber ballads to PJ Harvey trash-can voodoo, digitally brutalised Roy Orbison and on into the experimental retro ether until, frankly, your head spins. Unpick it all, though, this is one of the most probing and pioneering avant-retro-pop albums of the age. And when Furman swerves from his Seraphiel & Louise narrative to discuss his issues with religion, coming out and the rise of the Far Right on the album’s jauntier ditties, it’s one of the most provocative too. It’s got ‘Depp’ written all over it.