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Mirror Moves

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Album Review

Having made tentative inroads toward a wider American audience with Forever Now, the Psychedelic Furs' profile-raising and partial transformation continued with Mirror Moves. Very much a product of its mid-'80s time — Keith Forsey produced, his drum machine providing the beats while synths played an even more prominent role than before — it may not be the classic sound of the band but it is an often rewarding and inspiring listen. It didn't hurt that some of the band's best songs made an appearance here, either. Both "The Ghost in You" and "Heaven" balanced off a warm sound that managed to be radio-friendly on the one hand — John Ashton's guitar mixed in surprisingly well with the fine if often conventional keyboard arrangements — and surprisingly barbed on the other. Richard Butler's lyrics were some of his slyest and sharpest, a tone maintained throughout the album, while his one of a kind speak/sing clipped rasp kept things from being too lost even at the album's least inspired. Unlike the following Midnight to Midnight album, however — where everything the Furs had going for them turned into a screeching halt — Mirror Moves holds up fairly consistently. "Here Come Cowboys," with its combination guitar/string chug (or so it sounds!) and a brilliant slow descending chorus, and the driving, nervous piano and massed vocals on "Alice's House" are two particular winners. The secret highlight of the album is also its closer — "Highwire Days," as brilliant a meditation on '80s-era political paranoia and fears as was done at the time. Butler's imagery is to the point without moralizing or dumbing down, while the tense arrangement suggests a more synth-based equivalent to the Chameleons, at once scaled for epic heights and almost uncomfortably close.


Formed: 1977 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Psychedelic Furs, whose name was inspired by the 1966 Velvet Underground song "Venus in Furs," were formed in England in 1977 by brothers Richard Butler (vocals) and Tim Butler (bass), along with saxophone player Duncan Kilburn and guitarist Roger Morris. By the time they released their self-titled debut album in 1980, the group had become a sextet, adding guitarist John Ashton and drummer Vince Ely. That album, featuring Butler's hoarse voice (the tone of which suggested John Lydon without the...
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