Ezra Furman’s music has been pretty focused so far. His previous two albums The Year of No Returning and Day of the Dog both had a similar rock sound, occasionally moving into different retro styles. Their similarities didn’t make for the most interesting listen, but it wasn’t a major issue. Now that Perpetual Motion People is here and following the same pattern yet again, things are starting to go downhill.
Songs on the album tend to blur together, all using similar instruments and structures that seem to blend together without even intending to. Restless Year’s retro 50s style initially sounds interesting, but when similar elements come up in Lousy Connection and Pot Holes, the style experimentation slowly begins to lose its appeal. Even the use of instruments in Wobbly and Body Was Made sounds similar, down to the brass solos in each song. Furman’s vocals are a common issue throughout the album as well, initially sounding nice but always moving into more of a grating tone that makes it harder to listen to.
While there are some nicer moments on the album, even these have their share of problems. Hark! To the Music has a more engaging production style than most of the album, but even then the song is less than a minute and thirty seconds long, meaning it’s over just as you start to get into it. Restless Year gets its own chance to shine as the lead track, and the vocal melodies help to make it catchier, but being a minute longer than Hark! To the Music means it gets enough time to let you get into it, but not enough time for it to go anywhere. Tip of a Match is the album’s only really strong song, with its overdriven guitars giving the song its own real identity and fitting Furman’s vocals better than anything else here.
Perpetual Motion People is more of the same for Furman. It’s got all the same issues that his last albums did, and it comes across as less endearing now that it’s happened for the third time in a row. Rather than using each album as a chance to evolve and expand on his sound, they’re being used to explore the same areas every time, and it’s starting to become more and more of an issue as time passes.