On Perpetual Motion People, Ezra Furman's third and most recent solo album, the Chicago-born, Oakland-based musician embraces existence on the fringes, singing: "They'll never pin me down in the pages like a bug"; "You'll never classify me; don't try"; "We can't fit in so we head for the margins."

On Perpetual Motion People, Ezra Furman's third and most recent solo album, the Chicago-born, Oakland-based musician embraces existence on the fringes, singing: "They'll never pin me down in the pages like a bug"; "You'll never classify me; don't try"; "We can't fit in so we head for the margins."

"At some point, I realized the margins were the only place I could cast my lot," said Furman, 28, reached in late July on the road in Germany. "I first got into music when I heard punk, and it was saying maybe it's OK if you don't live up to the expectations various authorities have for you. And that was a good thing, because I was really upset that I was an outsider when I was 12 years old. I wasn't popular, but punk tells you to wear that like a badge of honor. I'm addicted to that idea for life."

It's a concept further fueled by the singer's Jewish faith, surfacing in the daily prayers he recites most mornings, as well as songs like "One Day I Will Sin No More," a humble acoustic spiritual that closes his latest on a reflective note.

"God is close to the broken-hearted, and God lifts up the lonely," said Furman, who headlines a concert at Ace of Cups on Monday, Aug. 10. "That was a message that was explicitly quoted to me and was part of my upbringing: Broken-hearted people and poor people and people who are in trouble should be your focus, and you should be on their team."

More recently, Furman, who identifies as gender fluid and bisexual, has evolved into a vocal advocate for the oft-oppressed queer community, even taking to the pages of British newspaper the Guardian to discuss his reasons for adopting more feminine dress in concert.

"It was nice to air that, because some people were like, 'Oh, it's a gimmicky, stage-y, fun thing to wear a dress as part of the show.' That's not what it is. For me it's something more; it's more intrinsic to who I am and how I am," said Furman, who chooses to use masculine pronouns. "There was a lot of dishonesty in my masculinity. I felt like I was always hiding it or looking over my shoulder a bit and hoping people didn't find out I was more feminine or that I was bisexual or that I was out there in these ways.

"I had a lot of internalized shame about it, which was really quite important on a personal level to shake and get over. Also, I wanted to be visibly queer in public because I think that's good for queer people in trouble to see - to see a man being feminine and being super fucking cool. That would have been nice for me to see earlier in life."

According to Furman, he's experienced a similar breakthrough with his own material as he's learned to shed these accumulated fears like snakeskin.

"A repressed person overcoming their repression always makes good music," he said. "Lately I'm working with this idea in my head that a good song comes from the meeting of 'I can't say this thing' and 'I need to say this thing,' and [the latter] breaks through with explosive force."

In past years, Furman occasionally felt detached from his surroundings - "After I graduated college … I had this perception I was drifting through the world and not really a part of it," he said - but an acute sense of connection permeates Perpetual Motion People (Bella Union). Throughout, the musician wrestles with deeply human concepts ranging from Chicago's lingering racial divide ("Pot Holes") to issues of body shaming and sexual liberation on the swinging, saxophone-fueled "Body Was Made." "My body was made this particular way … your social beliefs can just get out of my face," he sings, the buoyant backdrop barely masking the pointed venom in his words.

Musically, the songs populating his latest sound likewise liberated, bounding from hooky, organ-laced rock ("Restless Year") to doo-wop-spiked garage-soul ("Lousy Connection") to fuzzy, driving tunes like "Tip of a Match," which comes on like a lost Velvet Underground track.

"There was a lot of discovery going on making this music," Furman said. "It's not good to show up to the song with an idea of what you want it to be. That's bad for it. You want to leave it open for discovery, because sometimes it has its own plans. Sometimes it just is something else."