I’ve noticed that a lot of the music I’ve clung to like a life preserver these past couple years has been animated by a sense of enduring hope and camaraderie, seeking out the remaining shafts of light while storm clouds don’t just build, but loom more doomily, descending with a threat to envelop the entire land. The day after the 2016 election, I posted M.I.A.’s “Survivor” on social media and I still often think of its message of constancy of purpose even when the callously exploited flaws of a fearful citizenry test the soul. When I share a song such as Tacocat’s “Hologram,” Jess Cornelius’s “No Difference,” or Andrew Bird’s “Sisyphus,” I’m extending my mix tape manifesto of steadfast positivity in a time engineered to wear down the resolve of those of us who believe in equality, ethics, basic human empathy, and the other qualities that keep society moving forward.
Sometimes, though, my punk rock aspirant I was many decades ago — the one who still lurks sullenly and defiantly inside me — needs a cut that sounds a little nastier. Guitars should buzz, the drums must thump with a Ramones-esque single-mindedness, and the vocals are best delivered at a yelping rasp. I remain resolute in my convictions, but the pressure release valve of a song awash in unchecked anxiety helps from time to time.
So I must offer a thanks to Ezra Furman. The new song from his forthcoming album, Twelve Nudes, couldn’t have arrived at a better time.