Perpetually underrated indie-rock mainstay Ezra Furman has shared the lead single from his forthcoming album Twelve Nudes, out Aug. 30. It’s accompanied by a colorfully macabre music video that visualizes the song’s panic attack-driven narrative, as Furman dances, falls and smokes through the anxiety.
As is typically the case with Furman’s songwriting, “Calm Down” (aka “I Should Not Be Alone”) just shreds. Furman has always been able to bridge this gap between pop-rock and garage meltdowns with a particular punk-rock sensibility; the immediately laid-back and groovy bass line that kicks the song off paves the way for an absolute ripper of a bridge that finds Furman yelling, supportively, at the listener to calm down.
It’s almost impossible to calm down while listening to the song, though—this thing goes. The video, animated by frequent Furman collaborator Beth Jeans Houghton, matches the breakneck pace of the track, using vibrant colors to underscore the cognitive dissonance between feeling pretty on the outside and like you’re on the verge of a meltdown on the inside. There’s dancing eyeballs, demon babies, fornicating dogs and all sorts of other psychedelic imagery. “Calm Down” is over way sooner that you’ll want it to be, but, like the worst bouts of anxious energy, it’ll probably be back in your head before you know it.
That catchy mentality seems to pervade the rest of Twelve Nudes, which Furman says will be among his punkest, most political songwriting. Furman says of its lead single in a statement:
Desperate times make for desperate songs. 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.
Twelve Nudes is inspired in equal parts by legendary punk-rocker Jay Reatard and the poet/essayist Anne Carson, whose work inspired the album’s title. “Anne had these visions, or meditations, to deal with the intense pain in her life, which she calls ‘nudes,’” Furman says. “So, my album is called Twelve Nudes.”
The record is produced by John Congleton, whose recent work with Sharon Van Etten left us feeling rather impressed. Furman will be backed by Sam Durkes, Jorgen Jorgensen and Ben Joseph on this record.
Twelve Nudes is due out Aug. 30 via Bella Union. Watch the video for “Calm Down AKA I Should Not Be Alone” below, and revisit Furman’s 2018 Paste Studio session further down. Keep scrolling to find the details of Twelve Nudes, and all the way at the bottom of the page you’ll find Furman’s summer tour dates.
Twelve Nudes Tracklist:
01. Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone
02. Evening Prayer aka Justice
03. Transition From Nowhere to Nowhere
04. Rated R Crusaders
07. I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend
09. My Teeth Hurt
10. In America
11. What Can You Do But Rock n Roll
Twelve Nudes Album Art:
Ezra Furman Tour Dates
28 – Hay on Wye, U.K. @ Hay Festival
29 – Norwich, U.K. @ Waterfront
30 – Sheffield, U.K. @ Foundry
02 – London, U.K. @ All Points East Festival
21 – Benicassim, Spain @ Benicassim Festival
23 – Cork, Ireland @ Cyprus Avenue
24 – Dublin, Ireland @ Button Factory
25 – Galway, Ireland @ Galway Festival
28 – Topcliffe, U.K. @ Deer Shed Festival
05 – St. Paul, Minn. @ Turf Club
07 – Chicago, Ill. @ Lincoln Hall
08 – Detroit, Mich. @ El Club
09 – Toronto, Ont. @ Lee’s Palace
10 – Montreal, Que. @ Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.
11 – Cambridge, Mass. @ Sonia
12 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Warsaw
15 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Underground Arts
16 – Washington, D.C. @ Union Stage