The band Nurses, whose origins are in Idaho, now call Portland home. But they immediately distinguish themselves from that city’s surfeit of torturously faux-earnest Americana bands by their moniker alone, which, thank god, makes no reference to barns or bears. Their mind-bending debut, Apple’s Acre, in fact, has much more in common with the likes of Syd Barrett than Steve Malkmus.
Their new album, out this week on Dead Oceans-Secretly Canadian, is called Dracula. And while it’s not quite their gothic moment, there is a more autumnal, contemplative quality to the music. When Aaron Chapman intones, “You were looking at the stars again,” you get a sense that he’s conveying the essence of the record itself. But the name?
He explains, “I was thinking about the characteristics and vibes of the record, just asking myself, ‘What is this record called?’ Dracula just came to me without trying too hard.” More than sucked blood, though, Dracula seems the result of a bled out psyche. “Fever Dreams”, “You Lookin’ Twice” and “Through The Window” are spooky and melancholic, with cryptic atmospherics and languid funk undercurrents. Nurses seem to have also made peace with the idea of identifiable song structure.
“I wanted our sound to get a haircut,” says Chapman, “to clean up a little bit. When we were making Apple’s Acre we were listening to a lot more experimental music, stuff that would drone on for fifteen minutes. This time around we were more interested in reality than abstractions.”
But Nurses haven’t totally abandoned the freaky psychedelic inclinations that had the critics falling all over their debut. Indeed, “Trying To Reach You” is as trippy and arcane as you’ve ever heard them–even if, lyrically, it all comes off rather touchingly lovelorn.
After all, while Nurses have not actually gone all vampire-chic, it doesn’t mean Dracula won’t at least make your heart bleed a little.