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Ezra Furman - Twelve Nudes (Album Review)

Wednesday, 04 September 2019 Written by Helen Payne

Seeking to stay true to a punk aesthetic, Ezra Furman and band recorded ‘Twelve Nudes’ at a rapid pace with creative help from booze and cigarettes. And it shows. It doesn’t deliver the production finesse of 2018’s ‘Transangelic Exodus’, but that’s kind of the point.

There’s no overthinking, nor second chances, on this LP. It’s all about an animalistic drive of letting the music do the talking. Over 11 songs focusing heavily on gender politics, the state of America and a nihilistic sense of not giving a shit, ‘Twelve Nudes’ is about expressing feelings without a filter, releasing pent-up anger and fear at the disheartening state of the world.

From the get go, we’re treated to the fuzz-heavy single Calm Down AKA I Should Not Be Alone, an insanely catchy piece of rock ‘n’ roll that immediately invites us into the colourful, immersive world of the LP. This fuzzy, gnarly sound creeps up again and again, in the jittery Rated R Crusaders and in the snappy melodies of My Teeth Hurt. 

Furman never loses energy or misplaces the vigour behind his rusty screams, resulting in the listener feeling pummeled for 30 minutes, but masochistically loving every second of it. But, as well as all the anger and grungy heaviness, there are heartfelt moments, touching on Furman’s more tender form of songwriting. 

I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend builds on the universal feeling of unrequited love. Here, under a nostalgic chord sequence lifted from 1950s doo-wop, Furman is quizzical towards his friends: ‘I was thinking of considering ditching Ezra and going by Esme, baby, why do you find that so odd?”

The titular ‘Nudes’ are said to be a type of meditation or vision to deal with intense pain in life, based on the work of Canadian poet, philosopher and essayist Anne Carson. They give us the ability to recognise what’s really there if we go digging around in our anger and fear and anxiety. There’s a delicate balance here between what Furman explores deep in his inner being, and the raw punk sensibility of reaction without thinking, and not caring what anyone else makes of your decisions.

In America is the LP’s shiniest moment, a bright, chord-driven pop song full of positivity, which Furman comments on in the meta-lyrics: “There’s too many rock songs, put it all in a two-minute pop song.” But he contradicts himself on Blown. Here, the meditation reaches a boiling point with a minute-long track that’s less focused on melody or lyrics than anything he’s released before, instead zoning in on turning the distortion dial way up to 11, and delivering a powerful “Trans power!”

Influences shine through like rays of light on ‘Twelve Nudes’. Trauma is particularly fearless, with hammering blasts of Black Sabbath in the chorus’s giant riff, while classic rock ‘n’ roll is prominent throughout the record. Though inspired by Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Lou Reed, the Stooges, and more, Furman continues to do what he does best by making these influences distinctly Ezra.

Ezra Furman Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon November 11 2019 - GLASGOW QMU
Tue November 12 2019 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Wed November 13 2019 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Thu November 14 2019 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town

Click here to compare & buy Ezra Furman Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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