Friday, January 12, 2007

Reviews:: Nurse & Soldier Marginalia

Originally, herohill made a new year’s resolution to stop talking about husband and wife bands, especially the cute-as-a-button kind that pop up on blogs more often than Lohan. Well, like the unused gym membership, the Atkins diet, or the attempt to understand why people love the Joanna Newsom record, our first resolution failed.

Nurse & Soldier is another two-piece unit, but this time the band is backed by some solid rock pedigree (one half of the duo is Bobby Matador of Oneida, the other Erica Fletcher). Instead of relying on dueling, plinking synth riffs and catchy hooks, Bobby and Erica challenge the listener with chaotic tapestries built with psych-pop guitars, mooged-out synth fuzz and drums machines. Ranging from the staccato, jazzy keys and feedback of the epic Green Tea to the Breeders-esque 90’s rock of Lies and Alterations, the duo experiments with textures and crescendos, instead of razor sharp synth riffs and handclaps.

The whole record is incredibly raw and emotional; the songs are brief, most ranging around two-minutes, and play like random thoughts and tangents. The duo never pushes into self-indulgence which makes the scattered thoughts very digestible. Much like the blog favorite release from Beach House, Bobby and Erica seem to be more comfortable making down-tempo tracks saturated in an exhaustive sadness (the similarities are there on North of Baltimore). Although many of the same instruments are used, Nurse & Soldier replace the vintage pump organ and vocal frailties with swells of distorted, fuzzed out guitars. It’s still sad but more angst filled, and reminiscent of the thoughts that run around your head; they aren't easy to control or even explain.

The vocals are equally mood setting, as Bobby’s muffled, washed out voice balance Erica’s powerful, sad notes, but only on a few tracks (like Back in Yr Corner) are the vocals intended to be the focus and that really completes the insecurities of regret and nostalgia present in most of the songs. Somehow, in spite all the depression and regret, Erica’s lyrics often focus on issues faced by adolescents – like the playful Beatlemania (a quick ditty describing a young girl’s fantasy and submission in a relationship with an older boy, “something inside of me, let you read my diary”) or the confusion most young adults are faced with on Her Higher Education.

Even when the pace picks up (Capture the Flag), the fuzz and echoes are dark, almost daring you to try to smile through the pleasant sounds, before falling victim to Erica’s melancholy – “I will be your prisoner but you don’t need me anymore, but I don’t want to run, into the setting sun.” Never once do you sit back and think how cute this couple is, instead you wonder how they can be anything other than completely miserable. The one exception is the robotic pop ditty, “Bought Up to Soon”. The tempo change and crunchy keys is a bounce around at home song that pushes clear of the haze. That being said, the slow-burning haze that clouds the record is an enjoyable one.

MP3:: Green Tea
MP3:: Imaginary Friend
web page :: myspace

Posted at 12:27 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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