Primal punk power propels Ezra Furman‘s Twelve Nudes into the same rarified atmosphere that made The Clash’s London Calling and the Sex Pistols’s Never Mind The Bollocks records that defined the resistance and anger to the oppression of their times. Being released August 20 2019 via Bella Union records, the album is 28 minutes of magical musical mayhem reaffirming Furman and band’s credentials as inheritors to the title The Only Band That Matters.
If this sounds like hyperbole of the worst sort, than you’ve not been following Furman’s career. In some ways the previous albums have made this release seem almost inevitable. The anger and fear expressed here has been always simmering beneath, and occasionally bubbling to, the surface on previous records.
On Twelve Nudes Furman isn’t holding anything back. The songs pull back the scabs of wounds ripped into the fabric of our lives by hate, intolerance and injustice to reveal raw feelings. Furman has found a way to articulate the anger and frustration so many are feeling right now as hard won civil liberties are slowly stripped away polarization is the new norm.
However, aside from all that pretentious claptrap, what it comes down to is this is a great punk album. Unlike some, Furman and company don’t just write stuff that’s politically or socially relevant, they make songs that are not only dangerously compelling but also blow your socks off.
“I Wanna’ Be Your Girlfriend” has to rank as one of the most risky songs to sing along to while walking down the street – at least if you’re obviously male – since Tom Robinson’s “Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay” came out in the 1970s. “I want be your girlfriend/I want to walk down the street hanging from your arm/That’s right, little old me/I want to be your girlfriend/And leave behind this loveless world I know”.
While the words might seem innocuous enough, they take on a different meaning when you consider they’re written and sung by a self proclaimed non-binary person. In this day and age where transgendered people are being attacked by everyone from so called feminists, people in the gay community and the religious right – who failed to block marriage equality bills so are now demanding genitals be checked before someone uses a bathroom – this song is fucking revolutionary.
What’s amazing about Twelve Nudes is how well Furman is able to articulate the disquiet so many of us are feeling. Songs like “Evening Prayer: AKA Justice”, with its refrain of “It is time for the evening prayer/Time to do justice for the poor/It is time for the evening prayer/Time to do justice for the poor” and “Trauma”, “Years role on and they still have not dealt with our trauma/Years role on and they still have not looked at their sins”, define society’s inequities and illnesses better than any political speech.
In the past Furman has drawn upon all facets of American pop music for his inspiration. With Twelve Nudes the power of punk is channeled into a fiery outburst which will flame across the sky blazing like a meteor. However, this album won’t burn out or fade away – it will leave an indelible mark and you’ll be the better for it.
Twelve Nudes is one of those seminal albums that twenty years from now you’ll want to say you bought when it first came out. So buy it and revel in all its glorious angst, anger and hope.