Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (Bella Union) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Ezra Furman

Twelve Nudes

Bella Union

Aug 28, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Only 18 months after his astounding record Transangelic Exodus brought Ezra Furman high acclaim, appearing on almost every best of the year list that counts, Twelve Nudes crashes into the world. It's very different to Exodus in many ways, yet very similar in its breathtaking consistency of quality.

This is a raw, furious, life-threateningly melodic punk rock record that eschews Furman's softer side in favor of a collection of rough and ready anthems that sound like they were recorded by a genius in a garbage can.

Furman's voice is torn, ragged, forced to breaking on pretty much every song-particularly the moving, crushing "Transition From Nowhere to Nowhere" that spins and screams like a banshee before diverting along a David Bowie-esque route of glamorous, battered empowerment-"Remember I tried to ask what it means to be a man/They threw me into the back of a truck and they tied my hands."

Opener "Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone" is a crack-addictive blast of barroom brilliance that sounds like The Replacements filtered through a Motown girl-band sieve of sexiness. It's a primal shout of angst that feels absolutely real and, happily, absolutely delectable.

Later, there's the clipped Atari Teenage Riot tones of the anarchic "Rated R Crusaders" ("If you miss the point then you can look up the lyric"), the hefty-as-fuck stoner sludge of "Trauma" with the crackling line "What makes a girl start a fire in the hall/Leave a lipstick smear on the bathroom mirror," and the fizzing, screeching power of "Thermometer" ("The drugs are strong/but still my fever runs high") making an unholy trinity of off-kilter excellence at the album's heart.

Of course, single "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend" is something speciala slow waltz through Furman's romantic obsessions cast against the broader concerns of the world"My dying friends are finding religion/While my intellectual friends are all denying God"it's a wonderful resting moment for an otherwise savage album.

The vocal melody on "My Teeth Hurt," while sounding a lot like Cheap Trick, might just change your life. "It's not so terrible in America" lands at the close of the first verse and leads to the beautiful, sad "In America," leading ultimately to the bold, dead-on lines "And I don't have to defend it/I don't give a shit what Ben Franklin intended/What slave owner men saidglad they're all dead."

Twelve Nudes is a protest albumindeed the brief and bustling "Blown" opens with the straight statement "Trans Power!"it's also a fantastic, filthy, punk rock record that offers to cement Furman's growing reputation as one of the best and, coincidentally, most important artists working today. Furman's a fucking genius, this record just proves it again. Don't wait until this year's best of the year lists to find out. (www.ezrafurman.com)  

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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