Having fronted Ezra Furmans and the Harpoons since 2006, Mr. Furman has just struck out on his own with his first solo record, "The Year of No Returning." The record carries enough of the quirky, wobbly jangle and unabashed honesty of his work with the Harpoons to be a cozy listen for fans of those older songs.
But the tunes on "The Year of No Returning" have a bit more bite. They hang onto your ears just a bit longer. And when you try to pinpoint why, you'll realize that Furman simply means it a lot more this time. He's given up making songs to make other people happy and has taken up making songs for himself. This attitude comes through in the judgmental snarl of "American Soil," which channels every last note of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." And it's present in "The Queen of Hearts," in which a godless, world-sick Furman hangs onto the hope of finding a spiritual and romantic companion as if it's all that's left to fight for. Clearly that's a farce, though. These songs show that Furman still feels the pull and the promise of that rock 'n' roll transcendence as well.