(Self-released, CD, digital download)
“Biography,” the first song on her new EP, Meaty Hooks, tells you everything you need to know about Burlington’s Nuda Veritas. Almost. “Let me tell you ’bout me / I’m a fan of originality,” she sings in the first stanza, backed by a chorus of bright, a cappella chirps and mouth clicks. She continues, cooing, “Avant-garde is my thing. / Fuckin’ weird is my specialty.”
Coming from almost anyone else, those lines could be taken as either self-conscious navel-gazing or biting sarcasm. Coming from Nuda Veritas — the pseudonym of songwriter Rebecca Kopycinski — it’s very likely both. Since she emerged in 2009 with the double album Still Lives/Songs for Doing Dishes, Kopycinski has been a remarkably, bewilderingly duplicitous artist — a notion doubly reinforced by her bipolar 2011 opus, Verses of Versus.
She is the rare musician, local or otherwise, whose work truly does defy categorization. In one sense, it is pop music, built around identifiable structures and themes. In another, it is fearlessly experimental stuff that obliterates archetypes, only to reconstruct the rubble in some new, fuckin’ weird mold. In still another sense, it is, none of those things. And in yet another, it is all of them. Confused yet? Good.
Now take the song’s second line: “Let me tell you ’bout me. / I’m obsessed with ’80s movies. / Beach and sand is my thing. / Crazy bitches and string bikinis.” Is Kopycinski being facetious? Maybe. Maybe not. As she’s already told us, she’s a profoundly serious-minded auteur. But she’s also a girly girl who, like, just wants to have fun and watch “The Goonies.”
And that’s just the first half of the first song. Things get murkier, and deliciously so.
“Opposites Attack” contrasts beautifully ethereal, Bjork-like vocal swoons with sleazy, bro-step beats. “L-I-V-I-N” evolves from a pretty acoustic number to borderline pop R&B, complete with a repeating sample — a choice Matthew McConaughey line from “Dazed and Confused.”
“Do or Die” features still more ominous, beat-based, slow-jamz production, with Kopycinski nearly rapping the song’s verses before the chorus explodes with complex, multiharmononic histrionics that exist somewhere between En Vogue and Mountain Man. The record closes on “Never,” a bouncy, percussion-centric cut that plays like a lost tUnE-yArDs outtake.
If anything, multiplicity is Kopycincksi’s defining artistic trait, her own psychological complexity her greatest muse. And the brilliant, confounding Meaty Hooks furthers that notion. A mashable hodgepodge of alternately bracing and soothing styles and sounds, it strips down to the naked truth of the enigma that is Nuda Veritas, which is to say it raises as many questions as it answers.
Nuda Veritas celebrates the release of Meaty Hooks with a pair of release shows this week: Thursday, May 9, at the BCA Center in Burlington; and Saturday, May 11, at Charlie O’s in Montpelier.