Release Date: Aug 30, 2019
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Arriving just a year after 2018's critically acclaimed dystopian queer outlaw odyssey Transangelic Exodus, Twelve Nudes sees Ezra Furman and his newly minted Band with No Name deliver a savage, amp-melting set that's all teeth. Raw, political, feral, and apoplectic, yet reliably open-hearted, the songs were recorded quickly and with the needle firmly ensconced in the red. Furman pushes his voice to extremes as well, and you can smell the beer sweat and the smoke from his tonsils throughout.
The world appears to be going to Hell, and sometimes you reach a point when all you can do is scream. And it certainly seems like Ezra Furman has reached that point. Last year’s Transangelic Exodus was a remarkable record, a self-described “queer outlaw saga” which was the closest thing Furman’s yet made to a concept record. For the follow up, Twelve Nudes, he’s gone back to basics.
An invigorating call-to-arms, the provocative Chicago punk's new record is a quick-and-dirty about-turn from last year's epic 'Transangelic Exodus' Ezra Furman's last album, 2018's 'Transangelic Exodus', was an epic, Springsteen-inspired journey through the underbelly of American culture - as he's put it, witnessed by a "queer outlaw". It was wildly ambitious concept record about a couple on the run; a combination of honky-tonk rock'n'roll and moody, atonal no-wave that the musician laboured over in minute detail. Furman has always championed contrariness and so, naturally, the follow-up is a quick'n'dirty album of fizzing pop-punk songs recorded at breakneck speed.
These words, no doubt stated forcefully with a mischievously raised eyebrow, amount to a gauntlet thrown down towards the listeners of Ezra Furman 's new record, Twelve Nudes. But they are also a challenge, a blatant lie, a misdirection. It is a punk record, but this is nothing new: all of his previous records, with his various backing bands, have been 'punk' in sound or attitude, none more so than his most recent LP, Transangelic Exodus: a near-perfect rock opera about falling in love with angels and being on the run from the law.
After releasing last year's expansive 'Transangelic Exodus', Ezra Furman has returned with new record 'Twelve Nudes', an album that is a collection of lean and raw rock songs that tackle a tumultuous 2018. In Ezra's own words "the songs are naked with nothing to hide". Opener 'Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone' immediately fulfils this promise with instruments and vocals set firmly to full-fucking-throttle.
The Lowdown: It's been a pleasant surprise how much the mighty, blocky anthems of Bruce Springsteen have influenced trans and non-binary singer-songwriters, from the outspoken Laura Jane Grace to former G.L.O.S.S. powerhouse and current Dyke Drama troubadour Sadie Switchblade and the increasingly boisterous Ezra Furman. Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise, though; Springsteen's always been attentive to politics, goodhearted, and most artistically important, totally awash in yearning passion that matches the intensity of the above-named rockers.
W hen Ezra Furman released Day of the Dog in 2013, it was a last throw of the dice before giving up music. The ecstatic reaction to that album didn't just convince him to continue, it stoked his ambition on the two albums that followed, Perpetual Motion People and Transangelic Exodus, the latter of which was as confounding as it was brilliant. Twelve Nudes, which is almost entirely a punk rock album (only I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend harks back to doo-wop and rock'n'roll), might sound like a step back, but really it is tightly focused on one aspect of his writing: despair.