(Bella Union, out Fri 30 Aug 2019)
So called as Ezra Furman has “stripped back the songs”, Twelve Nudes is, as with all the best art, appreciated from a slight distance, the better to appreciate all of the details. Furman has described this as his “punk album”, but it’s all relative. After all, Day Of The Dog certainly had that energy.
Less experimental than the last album Transangelic Exodus, Furman and The Visions are nonetheless on blazing, fuzzy form, with anti-genre songs like bruised doo-wop, a la I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend, to bratty, oppositional anthems like Calm Down which references The Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil with its “ooh ooh” backing vocals. Sirens are wailing in Rated R Crusaders. Propulsive and fiery, these testimonies to resistance spit in the eye of right-wing US domination. There’s a tiger in his tank.
Furman is of course not averse to penning self-reflexive lyrics either. There’s always pause for wondering where he slots in as an outsider. In America tackles this, as he ponders how to “put it all in a two minute pop song”. On Your Own is softer and more introspective, amid the fury.
Ghosts of The Ramones, Dead Kennedys and The Dead Boys lurk in unexpected corners, but there’s polish along with the spit too. Thermometer even suggests a move towards nineties influenced pop-punk.
Trauma is by far the best track, a storm of righteous indignation at sanctioned violence and the lack of accountability within the Trump administration. If anyone can lead us to the revolution, it would be nice to see a sardonic, pretty, outspoken queer Jewish poet in pearls, right at the front. And one day, hopefully, none of those factors will even be noteworthy.