Review Summary: Nurses have done it again, shattering any hopes of them settling into one style and catapulting themselves into an entirely different musical spectrum altogether.
Every once in a while, a group of musicians will put out outrageously amazing albums, give extremely good live performances in the circles one might expect avant-garde stylings to be accepted, and still seem to slip under everyone’s radar. Portland-based band Nurses fits this description to a tee.
Since 2007’s Hangin’ Nothin’ but Our Hands Down (Sergeant House), Nurses has cultivated a sound that is the musical equivalent of pop art. They blend frantic rhythms with catchy vocals better than most bands of the late-2000s thanks to a very unique delivery from lead vocalist Aaron Chapman, intricate yet simplistic layering from John Bowers, and a solid rhythm section supported by James Mitchell.
The group’s second release, Apple’s Acre, pretty much destroyed any preconceived notions one could gather from listening to their first record. With a new label (Dead Oceans) giving them a lot more room to spread their wings, Nurses went old school in a new school way, hiding away in an attic with nothing more than a Macbook Pro, some random DAW, and a butt load of instruments, and somehow they emerged with what could be considered one of my generations’ greatest pop records.
With the release of Dracula, Nurses have done it again, shattering any hopes of them settling into one style and catapulting themselves into an entirely different musical spectrum altogether. Now don’t get me wrong, it is obvious that the same people are making the records. The subtleties and nuances of the band can be heard from album to album, but it’s as if the reinvention of the group can be expected with the release of a new album. The ability to rest is nonexistent, and the forward momentum keeps propelling the artists’ sound. In short, Nurses has cultivated an image of both being artsy and brutally spontaneous.
Yet even after being compared to the likes of Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective and touring with The Tallest Man on Earth, Nurses still hasn’t seemed to find their audience. However, Dracula is a record that can and probably will do that for the band. With a sharper focus on production and a new outlook on recording, the group dove into recording sessions and delivered another gem. The writing process was described as more of a producers gathering then a band jamming out the sections. Each member of the group took turns adding to the songs, tweaking the mix, and layering the backgrounds, and what you end up with is a record that really feels like something you can lean on.
Drawing from all their previous material and introducing new influences, Dracula will lead you through the collective mind of one of the greatest avant-garde musical groups. The most exciting thing about the album for me is getting to hear finished versions of “So Sweet,” which is now a two-part epic masterpiece, and “Eternal Thrills” (formerly named “Disney”), which have both been posted on Youtube acoustically for some time now. Getting to see the transformations of those songs is probably one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in music in a while.
The entire album is pretty amazing. Songs like “Trying to Reach You” will make you tap your feet the sort of infectious groove that sticks with you through your day, while “Wouldn’t Tell” will leave you feeling like a chilly morning smoke laying flat on your back on the hard wood floor, listening to the speakers echo off the walls. There is something so organic about this band that it’s hard to put into words most of the time, and with the progression from album to album, genre to genre I can only speculate that this is only the being of what the Nurses have to offer sonically.