Continues to surprise several plays after any cursory investigation
Mike Diver 2009
Portland, Oregon’s Nurses have here produced one of those slowly affecting debut albums which appears little to celebrate first time of asking, but soon establishes itself as a favourite if afforded warranted second and third listens, and inevitable further explorations if one takes the plunge.
The duo’s (Aaron Chapman and John Bowers, joined by James Mitchell after recording was completed) sound is gentle, percussively light and rich of textural detail, albeit in the mid levels rather than any wickedly undulating low-end areas. It immediately attracts comparison to Grizzly Bear through its alluring intimacy – like the Brooklyn band’s Veckatimest album of earlier this year, Apple’s Acre sits close to the listener, reaching out to touch them and edging tighter and tighter with each passing song: this music will invade your personal space. If the sublime Caterpillar Playground isn’t able to wrap you in its embrace, Bright Ideas certainly will, and date of acceptance is dependant entirely on one’s past experiences with music like this.
Which, alongside Grizzly Bear, can also be categorised with the alt-country likes of Band of Horses and the spaced-out psyche-pop of The Ruby Suns, with just a splash of Animal Collective eclecticism stirred into the mix at the last minute. Apple’s Acre is an intriguing puzzle of oddly arranged components, which settle into place with an unnatural ease despite seeming at odds with each other. It’s multi-faceted, ambitious and singular of assembly (those reference acts tell only half the story, as there’s plenty of originality on display; comparisons are made with regard to feeling rather than framework).
Vocals drift in and out of focus but always play a considerable part in proceedings, harmonies swelling to bolster instrumental arrangements and plugging directly into the heart in the process. Opener Technicolor wastes no time in establishing Nurses’ approach: swinging percussion playing out atop breezy Rhodes work, while voices wax and wane with delicious ethereality. Man at Arms could be The Dodos possessed by of Montreal, and What Then’s meditative meandering is as warm and welcoming a mid-section track as any album could hope to be blessed with.
With aspects of prog also evident (and well chosen), Apple’s Acre is an album that continues to surprise several plays after any cursory investigation. Just be sure to stick with it if the first play doesn’t quite connect.