Record Review: Nurses

Portland, OR

“Fanged avant-pop”

In 2009, the Portland-based trio Nurses released Apple’s Acre. Though the LP’s release did not create much buzz in the blogosphere, it did help the three-piece create a solid fan base. Two years later, Nurses is back with Dracula. Where much of Acre’s lure was in its lo-fi, DIY sound, Dracula is quite the opposite. The aptly titled album has a denser, darker sound that begs to be listened to through a sound system rather than headphones. And though the band members retreated to the Oregon Coast to self-track the album, they handed the audio off to production guru Scott Colburn (Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, Sun City Girls) and Julian Martlew at Seattle’s Gravelvoice Studios, officially making the transition from a bedroom recording experiment to a three-dimensional, dynamic avant-pop outfit.

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Aside from a more polished production technique, the boys of Nurses also decided to tweak their collaboration process. Instead of merely the traditional roles of guitarist, percussionist, and bassist, they acted as producers, building ideas on top of each other until each song was born. But no matter how many changes Nurses make, the band’s core is pop. Strip the songs of their unconventional, experimental structures, and they possess infectious melodies and catchy harmonies.

This peculiar paradigm is evident in the opening track, and first single off the album, “Fever Dreams.” The song emits eerie, almost unworldly vibes through the use of wavering, psychedelic guitar riffs, pounding, rhythmic percussion, and Aaron Chapman’s distinctly shrill, screeching falsetto-baritone vocals – yet the song incites humming and singing along. The same can be said of the record’s second single, “Trying to Reach You,” a groovy, funk-inspired number that features “whoa-ohs,” “ooh oohs,” and interesting vocal layering that entrances its listeners.

With yet another solid release by Nurses, one can only hope the threesome will finally receive the recognition they deserve. (Dead Oceans)

Recorded by Nurses

Mixed by Scott Colburn and Julian Martlew

Mastered by Paul Gold

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