The first part of their handle was always a misnomer. The "Psychedelic" Furs, if anything, are rooted in the two least psycho- dazed pop genres of the last decade: the scorched-earth hard rock of punk and early glam-rock's articulate camp.
The opening track of their latest LP, "Forever Now," comes thundering out of the grooves in accustomed Fur-y fashion: John Ashton grinds out yet another minor variation of "Sweet Jane" on guitar, while Richard Butler half-growls, half-croons a melody line fans have come to know all too well. Producer Todd Rundgren underpins "Love My Way" with tinkling marimba and wisps of synthesizer; for "Goodbye," he pushes the drums up front for maximum dance orientation, throwing in soulful horns for good measure. Still, as Led Zeppelin once put it, "The song remains the same." When the Furs do shift gears, it's to lay down a bare-faced Joy Division pastiche, "Sleep Comes Down."
Side two tends to mix up a greater number of reference points even more thoroughly and Butler comes up with a fresh vocal lick or two. The production flourishes seem less contrived, more playful. There are bits of cello, tasteful feedback freak-outs and neat tricks with multi-tracked voices. Live, the Psychedelic Furs overcome their shortcomings as composers with sheer energy. In the studio, they're well advised to have a savvy producer. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM -- Forever Now (Columbia ARC 38261). THE CONCERT -- This Friday at 8 at the Ontario.