Ezra Furman: Sex Education Original Soundtrack (Bella Union) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, December 1st, 2023  

Sex Education Original Soundtrack

Bella Union

Apr 17, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Fans of Netflix’s smart, teen dramedy Sex Education breathed a collective sigh of relief with the official announcement that Ezra Furman would release a soundtrack for it. From day one, Internet forums were scrambling to figure out the title, or who wrote “I’m Coming Clean,” featured minutes into the first episode. “I’ve got secrets I don’t know if I can tell you,” Furman sings, as the camera cuts seamlessly from one teen unable to ejaculate to another teen with the same affliction, although for entirely different reasons. Sex Education follows the misadventures of the sweet but socially awkward Otis (Asa Butterfield), whose mother Jean is a sex therapist (Gillian Andersen). Otis agrees to team up with resident bad girl, Maeve (Emma Mackey), and dole out sex counseling sessions for cash, in their could-be-anywhere high school.

Musically, the series leans in to more innocent times. Reflected in its choice of ’60s doo-wop, or the soundtracks of ’80s and ’90s teen flicks—à la John Hughes—that also referenced music of that era. From Tommy James & The Shondells (“Crimson & Clover”) to The Cure (“Boys Don’t Cry”) and The Psychedelic Furs (“Heaven”). A lot of the music that Furman provided for the soundtrack was yet unreleased, going straight from her notebooks and phone demos to the hands of Sex Education’s expert music supervisors, Matt Biffa and Ciara Elwis. Choosing Furman for the soundtrack was a genius move—her own politics and songwriting align sonically and thematically, while her out-sized talent—still underrated, feeds nicely into that sense of discovery for new fans.

Sure “Restless Year” and “Can I Sleep In Your Brain” could be found on Furman’s 2015-released solo album Perpetual Motion People, with “Love You So Bad” on 2018’s Transangelic Exodus, and “My Hero” on 2013’s Day of the Dog with her band The Boyfriends—so these were Shazam-able for the uninitiated. But those foaming at the mouth for the mystery tunes, they can now get all 19 of her compositions from Seasons 1 and 2 on vinyl, in one collection.

No song was more elusive than “Every Feeling,” the outro for Episode 3. The lyrics “I’m going to feel every feeling in the book tonight/Fuck the hurt, fuck the pain, fuck the panic, fuck the hate” a slipstream of raw emotions provoked by an unkind world, delivered like a resurrected Lou Reed. Furman’s vocal phrasing is dead on, and at once raspier and more mellifluous, heightened by the lone acoustic guitar and defiant stance.

Keeping it stripped-down, the dreamy cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “I Can Change” is imbued with urgency, thanks to the sparse strum pattern and heartfelt falsetto. While original composition “If Only the Wind” and Furman’s update of The Clovers’ 1956 song “Devil Or Angel” could be mistaken for being recorded in the same era.

Furman portrays beautifully the anguish, self-loathing, and idealism of jejuneness, from the lens of a wizened outsider on “Early Rain,” “Amateur,” and “Care.” The show’s gender fluid themes and inclusive agenda go lockstep with Furman’s own long-held beliefs, after her experience growing up closeted. But until she started wearing lipstick, dressing in frocks accented with pearls, and expressing openly that her “body was made this particular way…you social police can just get out of my face,” the top was not yet fully uncorked from her potent brew of rock, protest, and LGBTQ rights. Now each onomatopoeic wah-wah, hurried pant, and sibilant whisper holds more meaning and promise. Giving voice, visibility, and legitimacy to a once censured tribe and the gift of a kind of gender euphoria.

Just about anywhere that Furman’s voice pops in the show, it functions as its own leitmotif, conveying a comforting sense of defiance and familiarity. A spin of this excellent record—and the exquisite pangs of that bittersweet nostalgia we crave, return, regardless of our age or sexual orientation. (www.ezrafurman.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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