(Re)setting Foundations and Coming Full Circle with FUR’s ‘Oldies & Goldies’

FUR © 2022
FUR © 2022
FUR pack a nostalgic punch with their newest EP, ‘Oldies & Goldies’, a retrospective deep dive into their sonic foundation.
Stream: ‘Oldies & Goldies’ – FUR

We knew that people loved the songs, and knew there would be an opportunity to re-record them and make them something more than just demos. It couldn’t have happened at a better time.

If you ask any musician about the first batch of songs that they wrote, your queries will likely be met by their undisguised embarrassment. Many bashfully recall their original compositions, brushing them off as trivial attempts at creating a meaningful work of art — but this is not the case when it comes to FUR. This spunky four-piece band has chosen to revel in their beginnings, leaping at the chance to return to their roots within their newest — and ironically —  most sonically fresh EP to date, Oldies & Goldies, released Aug. 26, 2022.

Oldies & Goldies - FUR
Oldies & Goldies – FUR

Based in Brighton, UK, but having a home in the hearts of many all over the world, FUR’s discography arrives in the ears of listeners marked by warm vocals, punchy guitar lines, and tenderly sentimental lyrics; brought together under the band’s distinctive vintage-tinged soundscape. The group consists of William Murray on vocals and rhythm guitar, William ‘Tav’ Tavener on bass, Flynn Whelan on drums, and most recent addition Josh Buchanon on lead guitar and backing vocals.

Oldies & Goldies serves as the band’s most recent EP release, but as the title suggests, the four songs are in fact sourced from the band’s oldest material. Acting as the musical antithesis of the phrase “what happened in the past, stays in the past,” the EP holds the very tracks that the band debuted on as an official group in 2015 and 2016. As the group continued to develop their sound, they decided to delete the songs from streaming platforms altogether, believing they were no longer accurate representations of the rapidly maturing FUR soundscape.

FUR © 2022
FUR © 2022

For FUR, it’s all about timing.

The band’s retrospective look into the past within Oldies & Goldies did not come out of the blue, as die-hard FUR fans have been practically begging the band to put the tracks back out for years. Instead of immediately quelling the incessant begging of fans by re-releasing tracks without touching them up, they chose to take a couple of steps back to get back in touch with their own needs — not only as musicians, but as people. The four have made sure to set their own pace instead of falling victim to the unforgiving push and pull of the music business. After releasing their debut record, When You Walk Away, in 2021, they took some time to gig around the UK, continuing to hone in on and refine their sound. “Some bands would go straight into album two, and we didn’t feel ready for that,” frontman Murray says. “We wanted to do our own thing and our own ideas. Our amazing label, 777, got that and supported us. We’re very grateful for them.” After FUR — and FUR alone — decided that it was time to hit the studio once more, they set out to create Oldies & Goldies with well-timed intention and energy, eager to imbue some of their newfound musical footing and sonic expertise into these beloved tracks.

And thus, Oldies & Goldies provides listeners with a peek into the FUR that once was, masterfully reintroduced by the FUR that is now.

Getting back in touch with the youthful effervescence that accompanied the making of these early — but integral — parts of their discography has been a revitalizing experience for the band; but even more so for Murray, who served as the principal songwriter for these tracks. “It feels really special and it’s definitely the most personal thing we’ve done,” he shares. “[Re-working the EP] definitely made me appreciate past Murray, and whilst I thought I had gotten so much better at songwriting, I realized maybe my fundamentals were always there — I just lacked other skills to bring them fully to life like I feel I can do now. [It] felt natural, [and] it has been really rewarding.”

FUR © 2022
FUR © 2022

It’s definitely the most personal thing we’ve done.

The recording of these tracks was in no way a drastic upheaval or an arduous deconstruction of entire arrangements and lead sheets; “It was a really good and easy process,” Murray recalls. In “producing this, I knew I was willing to let new sounds take the place of old ones, nothing was tied down to its original place,” he shares. The fairly recent weaving of Buchanon into the musical fray helped the songs become even more elaborate. And while Buchanon wasn’t present in the recording sessions for the EP, his influence nevertheless seeped its way into the process. Murray explains, “As all the songs were mine from before [Josh] joined the band, I took it on as my job to channel both past me and current [Josh] and I into the songs — without being there he still managed to have a great deal of influence.” Full confidence, richly textured and polished production replaces any remnants of sonic naïveté heard within the original demos — no single track feels out of place, each quickly assuming its place as another delightful member of the FUR canon.

The EP simultaneously straddles two stages of life for the band: The aimless escape from adolescence one experiences going through their early twenties, combined with the wisdom and foresight that the band has gained since leaving those formative years.

Though, regardless of when the songs were written, these universally-felt emotions and experiences seep through the passage of time, remaining relevant whenever one chooses to listen.

FUR have always had a strong inclination toward weaving melancholic lyrical themes into contrasting upbeat rock melodies.

The EP’s opening track, “Creature,” is a prime example of this musical dichotomy; a punchy guitar-driven track that acts as a vessel for feelings of betrayal. The succinct lyrics of the song lay Murray’s emotions bare for all to witness — there are no gritty metaphors for listeners to pick through, or pretentious riddles to ponder; perhaps the only person who is confounded is Murray himself, as he muses, “Are you a creature / Or are you a friend / My skin feels so cold / And my hairs are on end / And I want you to know / You’re not the same as I hoped anymore.” An earworm through and through, all three minutes of this track keep listeners captivated, setting the tone for the rest of the EP as listeners find themselves subtly swaying along to the soaring guitar riffs and Murray’s twangy vocals.

While I thought I had gotten so much better at songwriting, I realized that maybe my fundamentals were always there; I just lacked other skills to bring them fully to life like I can do now.

Longtime listeners have grown up alongside FUR, following them through the beginning and endings of eras, life’s various transitions, and through all of the emotions that arise as a result of said experiences. FUR cover these transitory periods of life with a marked maturity and wisdom that pervades through the framework of this EP — especially within the closing single, “One & Twenty.”

A gentle acoustic line on the guitar flourishes into a dreamy indie-rock soundscape as Murray grieves over a love that has lost its initial spark. Murray’s voice lingers over every lyric, no longer emanating that bright and peppy quality he usually assumes; instead suggesting hints of sorrow as he reminisces upon all of the picturesque memories that came with this lost love. One can see him faintly smiling as his lyrics guide him down memory lane and into the mind of his past self that was hurting so deeply.

Murray looks back on these tracks with empathy for the younger version of himself that had penned them. “I have moved away from some of those themes, having found someone I want to be with forever,” he confides. “[Finding someone] has changed my perspective, but it almost enriches the themes present in those songs. Now I look back on them with a sense of nostalgia, so it has kind of gone full circle.” The songs act as a gentle reminder that no feeling is permanent; human life is always in some sort of transitory state, and that is what makes it so meaningful.

FUR’s songs are nothing if not deeply vulnerable, but the sheer warmth of their soundscape envelops listeners in a blanket of jangly sound, making every trouble one faces in this life seem just a tad bit lighter of a burden to carry. According to Murray, sometimes the best way to digest life’s events is to get thoughts out of his brain and into a song. The track “Her” is his “notepad of doodles in song for a collection of thoughts and feelings that don’t necessarily connect with each other, laid out in no order written straight off the tongue due to how the music I had written made me feel.” Much like the lyricism of this track, the context of life doesn’t have to make sense to be enjoyable — sometimes it’s best to go with the flow and let life play out in the manner that it wishes. FUR’s discography equips listeners with the soundtrack to sit back and let life’s most troublesome moments roll off of their shoulders.

Even with the occasional dash of anguish, a pure sense of play emanates from every FUR track.

The band’s effortlessly cohesive sound is clearly nurtured by the band’s enjoyment of one another’s company and input as not only bandmates, but friends. “We have a very unique and probably quite annoying sense of humor that we all feed off and it definitely keeps us going on tours and in rehearsals,” Murray confides. “A sound engineer once said [to us]: ‘You guys have the most interesting dynamic of any band I’ve ever seen. You’re all ripping into each other nonstop and there’s never a break for anyone, and yet you all seem to love it and be fine with it. I love it.’ says it all.”

The band’s collaboration leaves room for experimentation and change, as they have pushed one another to expand their musical vocabularies and reach beyond their musical comfort zones. As Murray’s self-proclaimed favorite single off of this EP and simultaneously the most requested track from fans, “Eyes” provides a prime example of the band’s ever-expanding sound. Entailing the experience of losing touch with a relationship that was once so heartening, the song opts to be a peaceful lament, eloquently expressing acceptance of all that has been lost instead of letting unkempt rage and remorse simmer under the surface.

Originally recorded with twangy guitar underscoring a bold synth line throughout the melody, the band opted to change the feel of the song entirely by implementing a Wurlitzer as the lead, giving the song a vibe akin to that of elevator music with a little more of that classic soft rock feeling. Posing a contrast between the band’s typical guitar heavy songs, Murray states that “the whole feel of the song changes with the Wurlitzer playing the lead line and a more smooth ‘desert’ feel. And yet the song still feels like it used to — it still feels like FUR.” The band show their prowess over their sound, unafraid to take risks and experiment, yet always daring to intertwine new elements into their sound.

Oldies & Goldies has arrived just in time to mark the beginning of a brand new era for FUR.

The four are preparing to take these songs on the road, as they embark on their first tour of the U.S later this year. After waiting through a pandemic full of cancellations, the group is ecstatic to finally be able to cross the big pond and make their North American debut. “We cannot wait, I think it’s the most excited we’ve all been over live shows,” Murray exclaims. “The majority of us have never been to North America — just being there will be incredible. Meeting fans that have waited so long, and playing to them is going to be such an overwhelming experience! Expect energy and just have fun — be a part of it and feel free and comfortable to enjoy it any way you want, it’s yours!”

Oldies & Goldies serves as a timely reminder that even though life changes, some things stay gold forever — and rest assured, FUR’s music is certainly something that stands the test of time.

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Stream: ‘Oldies & Goldies’ – FUR

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Oldies & Goldies - FUR

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