by Nick Hanover
Late in fuvk’s Time Series EP, the enigmatic singer calls out to an unrequited crush, singling out their compelling voice, so different than her own with its propensity for yelling and screaming and mean remarks. Though fuvk never raises her voice above her trademark near whisper on Time Series, the EP offers a noticeable rise in her music’s volume and mass from her earlier efforts– there are full on drums and bass and even a guitar solo. “I cannot help myself, I’m restless” fuvk admits, but what’s impressive is that even as fuvk takes these musical steps towards making herself more like that crush object, nothing of her own identity is lost, only amplified in unexpected and alluring ways.
The core appeal of fuvk has always come from the confident intimacy of her lyrics and how they seem to fall out of her mouth with eerily natural grace, so it’s only natural to have concerns about how that would translate to a full band experience. But fuvk and her longtime collaborator Clint Burgos seem to anticipate that and take tremendous care in the arrangement and production of the EP, bringing the bedroom breathiness of fuvk’s vocals to every instrument, no matter how rowdy. Even “Calm Down,” the fullest and perhaps best song on the EP, has fuvk’s vocal fully front and center, each intake of air as prominent as the piano and electric guitar backing her.
“Calm Down” also signifies the strongest deviation from fuvk’s previous template, beginning with a distorted guitar hook and rollicking drums before fuvk arrives. On the chorus, she claims “This is fictitious, it’s the story of a girl I knew/None of it’s real, I don’t think about happiness with you,” more to herself than her listener, invisibly gesturing not just to the narrative but perhaps also to her shifting aesthetic, trying on the guise of someone brasher and louder, unsure of what to make of how well it fits.
The closest the EP comes to classic fuvk, “fkbdy,” is all the more surprising for how it uses its stripped down, lo-fi set-up to frame what is the boldest lyrical moment on the EP, exploring sexual identity and longing in frank terms. By contrast, “glasses” pins the EP’s catchiest melody and hooks on an ode to sustaining yourself on barely there romantic memories, of how loving someone “in the slightest of ways” can keep you “going for days.” There’s a hint of the XX to “glasses,” with its ethereal guitar and Burgos’ murmured backing vocal, but fuvk’s lilting cadence and subtle cheekiness is more Jenny Lewis than Romy Madley Croft.
“Smile” likewise has a focus on drawing out romantic obsession with the barest of scraps, a kiss on the back of the neck being enough to “dwell on for one more year.” In a sense, this is how fuvk operates as a singer-songwriter as well, taking small, fragile musical elements and granting them tremendous meaning and potency through her lyrics and melodies. Time Series may have more instrumentation and more collaborators but each of them are utilized like tiny treasures with their own important, secret spaces. It’s this ability to make substantial growth and ambition feel so precise and intimate that marks fuvk as a remarkable talent who we’ll keep dwelling on for far more than one more year.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover