FUR Break Down Themes of Self-Scrutiny on Their New LP “When You Walk Away”

The Brighton jangle-pop ensemble takes us through their debut album track by track.

Earlier this year, the Brit-pop group FUR made waves with their first new music since penning a deal with the Norwegian label 777 Music and releasing their Facing Home Mixtape, releasing the single “The Fine Line of a Quality Life” over the summer. It wasn’t long after that the Brighton rockers revealed they’d be contextualizing the track with a full debut LP, which sees the light of day today. With “Quality Life” firmly embedded in the project, When You Walk Away juxtaposes the sunny jangle pop the band specializes in with probing lyrics covering territory related to self-realization and what the band refers to as the individual’s post-coming-of-age era.

Over the course of the record’s 11 chipper tracks, the band—who perform under the mononyms Murray, Josh, Tav, and Flynn—create bright soundscapes ranging from the nearly Flying Nun–esque opener to the Strokes-y guitar rock of lead single “Fine Line,” all of which Josh pairs with lyrics untangling the dual processes of coming to understand oneself and the world we exist in. While the heady lyrics often feel fit for the cold season spent indoors, the driving acoustic guitars anticipate warmer, more self-certain months ahead.

Below, Josh and guitarist Murray took the time to discuss the themes of each track—read what they had to say while you listen along.

1. & 11. “When You Walk Away, Pts. I & II”

Josh: “When You Walk Away” parts one and two are hopeful yet reflective statements that bookend the album. Drawn from the common axiom “When you walk away, don’t turn/look back,” they act as a personal manifesto that looks to punctuate and frame the themes present on the album. The album deals with the personal and shared experiences we have during the difficult post-coming-of-age period in our lives, with each song being a snapshot/postcard searching for meaning and trying to make sense of these experiences. Post-coming-of-age is a dizzying period of intense change and movement, both internal and external, in which you try to find your place in the world whilst finding yourself within. You may have to walk away from home, familiarity, and innocence as well as jobs, relationships, and situations that are no good for you while in turn friends and loves may walk away from you. As someone with a penchant for standing outside of time and dwelling on the past, the songs act as a reminder to be more present and spend less time looking over my shoulder.

“Pt. I”’s lyric “Find someone who loves you and don’t let go / Find someone to believe in and let them know” serves as an ode to love and friendship, and hopes to impart small wisdoms in what I have learned through experience and believe to be most important. “Pt. II”’s lyrics, while dealing with identical themes, are intended to read allegorically to echo the sentiment of disillusion with the politics of the world around us, to which we become more attuned as we come of age.

2. “Anybody Else But Me”

Josh: “Anybody Else But Me” is a tongue-in-cheek anthem for self-effacing youth uncomfortable in their own skin. Growing up I always wanted to be more like my musical heroes, but I was under the assumption that when I reached this age I would be more comfortable in my own skin. The song’s main hook/refrain is a nod to some of The Cure’s more “pop” efforts, as Robert Smith was always a hero of mine growing up. While the song tackles self-loathing and introversion, it’s juxtaposed by the uptempo instrumental and playful lyrics of wanting “be like Elvis,” probably the original modern frame of reference for exuding confidence and cool. I think the contrast between the lyrical theme and the music creates a playful atmosphere that’s as much about self-loathing as it is celebrating that we are who we are, and we’re always going to fall short when comparing ourselves to the people we’ve placed on a pedestal in our minds. As linear beings, we can always evolve and improve on the self, and maybe the self-scrutiny that comes with lacking in confidence isn’t always a bad thing as long as it’s acted on in a positive way.

3.To Be Next to Her”

Josh: “To Be Next to Her” is an ode to the folly of love and the absolute power that it can have over us. This is best illustrated in the song by the declaration, “You could give me everything, the world at my feet / Still I’d throw it all away to be next to her.” I wanted the verses to read like stanzas from some of the Romantic poets, or like a letter Keats would have sent to a lover. I did this because the way the Romantics employ hyperbole and images of the sublime perfectly symbolizes the way love can cause us to act and think. The images of grandeur like being made a king or being built an effigy being meaningless to the songs protagonist really punctates the almost-funny ridiculousness of love. While I’m poking fun at these grand statements slightly, it’s ultimately a celebration of that feeling and how it can be the greatest thing. 

4. “Fine Line of a Quiet Life”

Murray: “Fine Line” is about the turning point you get to when growing up, realizing that you don’t want to keep repeating old behaviors and walking down the same avenues when they don’t lead to happiness or anything that resembles fulfillment. It’s realizing it’s OK to let go and move on, even if the people around you haven’t. The song sonically references glam rock, which was really helped by some of the vintage gear we had at our disposal at Echo Zoo Studios in getting those gritty guitar tones. 

5. “She’s the Warmest Colour in My Mind”

Murray: “Warmest Colour” is a light-hearted throwback to carefree ’60s songwriting with an air of childlike innocence surrounding the topic of love. The lyrics are whimsical and impressionistic in the way they focus more on capturing a feeling rather than telling a story, trying to get to the heart of what it is to be in love. The way they’re close to being nonsensical was inspired by a Harry & Paul sketch that plays on The Beatles lyric, “Sundays on the phone with Monday and Tuesdays on the phone with me” that I’d seen and thought would be funny to indirectly reference. I think it’s the first time we’ve had a chorus without lyrics, just a vocal following the really infectious lead guitar part that’s very fun to play.

6. “No Good for You”

Josh: “No Good For You” is an intimate insight into self-sabotage when it comes to love. I think a few songs on the album deal with the idea of mythologizing someone, which I think is common at a young/naive age—especially before you really know them, you tend to fill in the blanks yourself because it’s a human instinct to want to see the complete picture. The problem is this complete picture is partially fabricated—a fantasy that can be easily shattered—or it can lead you to feel like you could never be good enough for this illusion that you have created. Placing someone on a pedestal like that creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you’ll never feel good enough. We wanted the song to sound like you were a fly on the wall during an intimate performance of the song. It’s the rawest song on the album and we love how it sounds.

7. “What I Am”

Murray: “What I Am” is a point of self-reflection, a song looking honestly inward at oneself from a realistic and perhaps pessimistic perspective, and upon reflection discovering who you are and how it affects your outlook and responses to the things you experience. With this discovery it explores the idea of letting go of “trying to be someone that you’re not” for someone else in the futile attempt to make a relationship work, and drawing a line in the sand, deciding to be yourself and hoping that someone will love you for that. This is one of a few songs that was demoed in the Brecon Beacons during the winter of 2019, where Josh and I escaped Brighton to start gathering songs for an album. 

8. “Wild Heart”

Josh: “Wild Heart” is an admission of longing for a deeper and more meaningful relationship. It’s a realization that you’ve outgrown your wild and youthful heart, that there’s maybe more to you than the stone exterior you project allows people to see. Again touching on the idea of mythologizing someone.

9. “Love You All the Time”

Josh: An introspective ode to unrequited love. As we get older we can become more “damaged” through past experiences and relationships. This can cause a hesitance to fully give yourself to someone or even give yourself at all. “Love You All the Time” then deals with the consequences of not fully giving yourself to love.

10. “Holding Up the Sun”

Josh: “Holding Up the Sun” is the most personal song on the album for me. It was written during some time off in Phuket on a tour of South East Asia. We didn’t have our instruments, as they were taken directly to the next show, so I just sang into my voice notes. I remember that everyone else had left the apartment to go to the beach, but I felt like I just had to get it out of me. I didn’t want to hide behind metaphor and faced the issue of the song head on rather than distancing myself through the use of language and imagery. Through this it felt like a more honest admittance of guilt while also creating a healthy and meaningful dialogue with myself, and by proxy, everyone who will hear the song.

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