Ezra Furman is pleased to announce his new album, Twelve Nudes, due August 30th via Bella Union. 2018 was a championing year for Furman – since the release of the “layered, baroque pop melodrama” (Billboard) Transangelic Exodus, Furman has garnered immense praise, both forTransangelic Exodus and the soundtrack he created for Netflix’s Sex Education (he and his band also appeared in an episode). Twelve Nudes, his new and “spiritually queer” punk record, continues this same wavelength, and is an incendiary and inspiring follow-up. Across the album, Furman channels pent-up energy, distinguished by sharp, lacerating observations, confessions and proclamations. Additionally, Furman shares the lead single / video, “Calm Down” (aka “I Should Not Be Alone”) and announces a North American and European tour (all dates below).
Twelve Nudes was recorded quickly in Oakland in Fall 2018 and was mixed by venerated producer John Congleton (Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent). The result is an album that is less stereotypical punk than raw, raucous rock’n’roll. The album has two spiritual heroes – the late great punk Jay Reatard and Canadian writer and philosopher Anne Carson. The title stems directly from Carson, who used the term “nudes” to describe the meditations she used to deal with intense pain in her life.
Throughout Twelve Nudes, Furman uses both personal and outward experiences to communicate intense frustration. On punk-rock track “Rated R Crusaders” he explores his Jewish identity and the Israel/Palestine conflict, while “Trauma” seethes with the spiritual malaise brought on by watching wealthy bullies accused of sexual assault rise to power. Furman is well-aware that America is balanced on a knife-edge between white male supremacy and the dream of universal opportunity; hence the references to Mexico, slave-owners and US “founding father” Ben Franklin in “In America.” “One of my goals in making music is to make the world seem bigger, and life seem larger,” Furman explains. “I want to be a force that tries to revive the human spirit rather than crush it, to open possibilities rather than close them down. Sometimes a passionate negativity is the best way to do that.”
Immediate proof is offered by “Calm Down.” The track, insanely catchy and bound up in a compact two minutes and 22 seconds, is a cry of panic and despair. “Desperate times make for desperate songs,” says Furman. “I wrote this in the summer of 2018, a terrible time. It’s the sound of me struggling to admit that I’m not okay with the current state of human civilization, in which bad men crush us into submission. Once you admit how bad it feels to live in a broken society, you can start to resist it, and imagine a better one.” The accompanying video, directed by Beth Jeans Houghton, follows the same hand drawn aspect of previous videos, but with vibrant color and a comic book style.
“This is our punk record,” says Ezra Furman. “We made it in Oakland, quickly. We drank and smoked. Then we made the loud parts louder. I hurt my voice screaming. This was back in 2018, when things were bad in the world. The songs are naked with nothing to hide.”
Ezra Furman will shortly embark on a European tour. Then, he will bring his energetic live shows stateside before returning to Europe later this year.