Nurses return with Dracula, the follow-up to their 2009 homemade psych gem Apple’s Acre. Dracula is steeped in the strange pop brew that bore Apple’s Acre, with the band’s unmistakable elastic melodies, heady pop hooks and unconventional knack for catchy songwriting that gets under your skin. But where Apple’s Acre was an insular album, recorded primarily in an attic in Idaho using just an internal Macbook microphone and primitive recording software, Dracula is bursting. It’s bolder, heavier, with deep grooves, dubby basslines and a focus on rhythm. It’s an album with pure physical qualities. Apple’s Acre was an album made for headphones; Dracula needs a sound system. What has not changed is the undeniable constant in Nurses’ body of work: their immediate and catchy pop songs. The band embraces hooks and melodies--yes, they turn them upside down and inside out--but at their core, the band (and Dracula) are defined by pop songwriting.
To immerse yourself in Nurses’ Apple’s Acre is to delight in a certain mental unraveling. These are songs where the vulnerability of pop with its heart on its sleeve engages in a double-dutch jumprope match with the euphoric surrender-to-the-weird that is essential to psychedelia. And Nurses is a band that scavenges beauty and wonder, uncovering Technicolor where others see somber hues. Their off-kilter psych-pop is driven by ever-swelling vocal harmonies, adventurous electronics, some serious wheelin’ and dealin’ on the Rhodes piano, and the kind of new-primitivist percussion that may or may not involve a standard drum kit. Apple’s Acre is a record full of dysfunctional, hushed love, laced with elegance and grace and without angst and regret. But the plain courage of their songs is the secret ingredient that’s already turning heads and blowing minds all over the Northwest—and if you think about it, in pop music, courage is always at a premium. Fans of Yeasayer, Deerhoof, Danielson and wild minded pop music should pay close attention.
Nurse & Soldier’s Marginalia is gentle, bewildered psych-pop from the partnership of Robertson Thacher (aka Bobby Matador of Oneida) and longtime collaborator Erica Fletcher. The two have been making music together since their teenage years, a long history reflected in the intimate nature of the music. Far more vulnerable and raw than Oneida, Nurse & Soldier sing about longing, betrayal and reconciliation; the sound of Marginalia is a confused murmur, as opposed to Oneida’s punishing roar.