Earlier this year, Jenny Lewis
and a few of her musical pals debuted a surprise new project called Nice As F*#k
(let's just stick to using those symbols, shall we?). Lewis has teamed up with Erika Forster
(1/3 of Au Revoir Simone
) and Tennessee Thomas
(drummer for The Like
and daughter of the great Pete Thomas
of Elvis Costello
). After spending years working on her last release, 2014's outstanding The Voyager
, Lewis has gone in the opposite direction for NAF, paring everything down for the most minimalist record of her career.
How pared down is the trio's self-titled debut? There are zero guitars on the nine-song album, which clocks in just 26 minutes. The entire Nice As F*#k aesthetic is just bass, drums, a few keyboards and lots of dub-style echo. This approach allows the spotlight to shine on Thomas' driving drums as the backbone of tunes like album opener 'Runaway' and the single 'Door.'
Politics and unity are top of mind for NAF, which is unsurprising for a band that announced their existence to the world at a Bernie Sanders
rally just a few months ago. 'Homerun' seems to be pretty blunt about it all if 'left is right/right is suicide' is to be taken as straight-up assessment of the poles of our political system. And there's no subtlety on 'Guns,' just straightforward sadness. Lewis croons, 'I don't want to be afraid/put your guns away' and 'the crisis is not ISIS,' while calling for a love revolution. However, there's still space for some levity, since this is a band with their own 'NAF Theme' - a 44-second tune reminding us 'We're nice as f*#k! Wish you good luck!'
Nice As F*#k
was quickly written and recorded and it shows. The minimalism of the band doesn't leave any room for the complex storytelling that Lewis does so well. NAF is another piece of her varied career as well as the first taste of her freedom now that she is off Warner Bros. Records
and releasing music via her own Love's Way
label. And it'll be nice as you-know-what to see what voyages she goes on next.