[sic] Magazine

Nurses – Dracula

There are two ways to self-sustenance in music. If you don’t have the opportunity to invest heavily in upward momentum from the get-go, you’ve instead got to find your niche, grubbing out a precarious existence until you become established. Inevitably, those canopy giants that succeed with the former strategy soon spread, often eclipsing those that eke it out in the dappled niches.

Having taken root on their debut, Nurses ‘ 2009 sophomore release sent forth some very promising and hazy psyche-pop shoots only to see them stifled in terms of commercial success by the likes of genre titans Animal Collective . So far the above generalisation holds, but, as extended metaphors go, this one is bearing fruit, and so too does Dracula , for Nurses have explored new niches.

To put it simply, they’ve discovered psychedelic funk, and the slightly offbeat “You Lookin’ Twice” puts it to good use, practically forcing the eyelids to half-mast in the process. They’ve also discovered dub and thus lightly colour some of their basslines accordingly. For example, the forthright pop jangle of “New Feelings” is rendered beach-perfect with its choice slow dub, horizontal percussion and a vocal set to mid-distance drift. There’s even a moment on Dracula when, through a curtain of sweet smoke, the keys contain the half-baked notion of calypso waltz.

Wisely however, the band still know that pop is their bread and butter. The catchy opener, “Fever Dream”, is nearly as infectious as its title suggests – its woozy summer drift even more so. Throwing a discernible beat into the mix, “Trying To Reach You” runs with various key effects to create a dusty funk cut that favourably aligns it with those of the well-received Unknown Mortal Orchestra .

Balance is offered in places by chillier takes in which disengaged tendrils of sound swirl around syrupy basslines and ponderous beats. Yet, the aimless echo of “Wouldn’t Tell” lets the side down a little, as does the loose, unadventurous jam “So Sweet”, despite containing the album’s best attempts at vocal theatrics.

Succeeding where “So Sweet” doesn’t, “Dancing Grass” is full of lyrical cadences and an anchorless creak of keys that slows proceedings into sounding like parts of Merriweather Post Pavilion at half speed – something that makes more sense when we discover Scott Colburn of Feels fame on production.

Nurses are doing everything right, save for having been beaten to the punch, and by a better band. They know this. We know this. Dracula is nevertheless a strong outing. Their riposte is to experiment and the resulting dub flourishes demand the attention; the funk inclusions are faultless. Lose the Noah Lennox fixation and Nurses can stand proud and ancient in the forest.

Advised downloads: “Fever Dream” and “Trying To Reach You”.

~Dracula is released 19th September 2011 on Dead Oceans .~

Nurses @ myspace