Nurses

Dracula

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Starting with the appropriately queasy-ish "Fever Dreams," slightly warped shoegaze-ish guitars in a tight loop as Aaron Chapman's at once breathy and direct singing cuts through a slow-building rhythm, Nurses have found themselves in a much stronger, more distinct spot than 2009's Apple's Acre allowed for. Dracula, for all the gothic connotations the name might call up, deals in a different kind of busy, involving darkness and something shadowy, but always emphasizing a kind of taut groove that shows the continuing impact of a meta early '80s, somewhere between Downtown 81 and Laura Branigan's "Self Control," pop and clatter all at once. The end effect is ultimately liberating, letting Nurses explore something more than the late-2000s indie cul-de-sac they'd found themselves in previously. The percussion, primarily courtesy of James Mitchell, hits and sometimes grinds without exploding, an undercarriage that doesn't slam up hard. Hearing the arrangements play out on the conclusion of "Extra Fast," a gentle hyperactivity defines the results, something really noteworthy. If the album sometimes settles into a bit of a samey feeling, individual songs often twist things further, as on "So Sweet," with extra keening, distant vocals on the choruses and a sudden tempo shift toward its end, and the shuddering organ lounge beats of "New Feelings." There's even a sort of dub feeling on "Dancing Grass" thanks to the melodica and slow pace -- but if Chapman isn't Augustus Pablo, at least he's not the guy from Big Mountain.

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