Published Aug 27, 2019Ezra Furman is angry, refuses to bite his tongue any longer, and doesn't care what you think. And how lucky for us that he doesn't: Twelve Nudes is a punchy, punk-y release of energy that finds the talented Furman at the top of his game.
Twelve Nudes is political in a way that will resonate for anyone struggling with Trump's narrow, exclusive vision of America, or with a world in crisis more broadly. Driven by the rhythm of its breathless, manic lyrics, "Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone" opens the album: "Calm down / baby, calm down / I know you can't 'cause I can't calm down." "Transition from Nowhere to Nowhere" starts in an airier, acoustic place reminiscent of Bowie's "Space Oddity" and quickly builds, giving voice to an aching sense of inertia. "Trauma" powerfully showcases Furman's lyrics ("What makes a girl start a fire in the hall / leave a lipstick scrawl / on the bathroom mirror?"). The pining, romantic "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend" changes up the pace with its slinky, distorted doo-wop, while "In America" offers a twist on Springsteen Americana.
Twelve Nudes is a feverish expression of pain but also exposes longing, and in that way provides a sense of hope. In his call-to-action "Evening Prayer aka Justice," Furman howls: "Tonight you've got fire in your bloodstream / if your frail human heart is still pumping." He has created a blistering and often beautiful protest album. Let's hope his fever catches; it'd do us all some good. (Bella Union)