Richard Butler

Richard Butler (Koch)

What a difference a couple of decades make. Richard Butler's long-awaited, self-titled debut is a perfect example of what happens when a onetime rebel rocker sheathes his barbs and opts instead for easy-listening accessibility. It's not that Butler has sold out; these aren't the sort of songs that populate radio play lists these days, at least not to the degree Butler's band, the Psychedelic Furs, did with their Eighties hits "Pretty in Pink," "The Ghost in You," "Love My Way," and "Heaven." It's more a case of Butler having gone from New Wave to new age, employing producer Jon Carin (Pink Floyd, Bryan Ferry, Pete Townshend) to swathe his lush, hushed melodies in a celestial sheen and ethereal ambiance. Likewise, Butler's voice, once a surly, sandpapery rasp, has become a melodious croon that rarely rises above a whisper. There are some lovely moments, to be sure — the gorgeous "Good Days, Bad Days" (which deals with the death of his father and the collapse of his marriage), the shimmering "California," the soaring "Milk," and a dreamy, drifting "Satellites" in particular — but the muted sound and loss of the edge and antagonism that were once the Furs' forte are as stirring as a sedative. This is Butler's love, his way indeed.

 
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