Review Summary: Like a nun in a Playboy shoot, you get the feeling that Nurses shouldn’t already be quite this good at what they're doing. A very admirable debut from a very quirky Chicago quartet.
Mmmm, Nurses… Excusing any personal fetishes I may have for a slutty PVC laden blonde wearing a red cross, ‘Nurses’ are a new band, hailing from Idaho, Chicago. Without the typical reference to the usual type of band that seems to emerge from the ever-popular state, I’m just gonna dive head first into the review, partly because I know very little of the band’s history and partly because I haven’t mastered the art of the introduction. I mentioned a secret fetish for uniforms for God’s sake. Moving on.
"Hangin' Nothin' But Our Hands Down" is the debut album from the band ‘Nurses’. Sounding like it could have been recorded by a town jester(slash)producer with its quirky, strange, but refreshing vibe; Nurses’ sound is a unique one. Creativity in abundance, (which can be realized just from the cover art), it’s difficult to describe. Think of a death match in a circus tent between a sweeter, better sounding ‘Portugal. The Man’ and a duly sedated ‘Blood Brothers’, watched as a form of entertainment by a cruel and evil overlord, ‘The Arcade Fire’. If you can’t picture the sound of that epic gladiator battle, then a more accurate description might be – inventive, occasionally brilliant lyrics sang with vocals that are more easily manipulated than a fifteen year old girl being chatted up by a 'model agency executive', which sit proudly atop insanely catchy hooks, pounding drums and driving bass. Fantastic. Yet, despite this sweet chaos, there is a lingering but noticeable feeling that they haven’t truly captured their sound yet. It’s as if they’ve found the footsteps of it, but now they need to follow them and capture it. Not that big a deal, and easily forgivable for a debut, as it's extremely rare a band perfects it's sound on the first outing. The fact they’ve even found the markings is a promising aspect though, as it’s something many bands fail to do.
Unfortunately, and rather depressingly, the album is far too short at 35 minutes, and the major problem with this is, that there is more repetition here than I can shake a fist it, let alone a stick. Prime example of this is with ‘(Wait For) A Safe Sign’. A fantastic song, it’s dangerously catchy and wonderfully inventive. The vocal hook in the second part grabs on to your soul like a gambling devil leech, and forces you to partake in the act of singing along on your next listen. There are some great lyrics, and the music is generally excellent, it’s all very promising, until it meets the fate of almost every other song on the album. Repetition. The whole of the song is practically repeated, the second half is almost exactly the same as the first, and considering the album’s length, and the fact that this is the case with almost every song, I can't help but feel disappointed, almost cheated. The album might aswell be 15 minutes long. One song, ‘He Gots’ even goes as far as to put only two lines of lyrics in, which is fine if you can back it up, but the lyrics and music are just repeated twice. And then the song is played backwards. Wasted time. With so much talent on show it’s impossible not to be frustrated with the amount of filler on a 35 minute full-length album.
However, in the belly of the ferocious and forever-hungry beast that is originality, Nurses do enough to keep it’s appetite satisfied with more-savoury-than-sugary poppy hooks, and subtle undertones that will be picked up as just rewards on repeated listens. There are lots of different sounds on show here; even barking dogs make an appearance. Highlights include ‘Lots Of Brass’, driven by paranoid vocals and foot-tapping drums, ‘Hungry Mouth’, fusing fantastic lyrics – ”When she gets off work tonight/When she gets those bruises don’t you know it’s cos I made her my wife”
– with a great stuttering piano melody, and ‘Gettin’ Angry’, incredibly strong vocal hooks and more weird-but-brilliant lyrics are joined harmoniously with some quirky guitar riffs. With so many different dimensions displayed in their sound, it’s difficult to resist not giving this one many, many spins in your CD player.
Like a nun in a Playboy shoot, you get the feeling that Nurses shouldn’t already be quite this good at what they're doing. Despite this being their debut album, they milk the freedom in the museum of sound for all it’s worth and exit the scene with a sly grin, leaving behind a bloody canvas where the art of silence used to stand.