Release Date: Aug 4, 2009
Record label: Dead Oceans
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
There’s something quite romantic (clichéd as it may be) in the image of musicians wandering the highways of the USA in search of somewhere to settle to record their masterpiece. Probably aware of this, Nurses’ core constituents Aaron Chapman and John Bowers did their fair share of roaming before picking up drummer James Mitchell, settling in Portland, Oregon, and emptying their toybox on the floor to produce Apple’s Acre. The record is a patchwork of the most gorgeous type of euphoric but bruised pop.
Aaron Chapman and John Bowers, friends since middle school, have moved from Idaho to California to Chicago to (finally) Portland, Oregon, and they've dragged their psych-rock project, Nurses, with them. But they've never seemed to fully unpack until now. Sure, they self-released a debut in 2007 that was born of the San Diego sunshine, but it took verdant Portland to give Nurses the rain they really needed to grow.
Aaron Chapman and John Bowers are the duo that make up Nurses, and on their debut, Apple’s Acre, just try and pin their sound down. You can pick out genre references in their music—mostly psychedelia and electro-pop—but to call it by either of those is to sum up their sound too simply. Nor does it work to just mash the two together and call this psychedelic electro-pop, because that too doesn’t cover the spectrum they cover by surprisingly spare means.
If indie rock has become, for the most part, an endlessly rotating set of established signifiers in 2009, then Nurses' second album, Apple's Acre, is perfectly at home in it all, skipping amid everything from bits of electronic echo and glitch to clap-along sentiments to cracked-voice ruminations on home and love -- and all this within the first song, "Technicolor," so if nothing else the band knows how to put all the pieces together from the start. But from there, as with far too many acts in the field, things barely vary -- having learned their lessons all too well from acts like the Flaming Lips and the Decemberists, Arcade Fire and Animal Collective, Nurses proceed to provide exactly what is expected of them and what their audience presumably expects. There are big sentiments and big singing, swathes of reverb and senses of vast spaces, twinkling keyboards and crashing bells, an emphasis of treble over bass on all fronts.