When indie rocks Nurses released its sophomore album in 2009, critics compared the Portland, Ore.-based trio to Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. When it came time to follow up that acclaimed effort, Nurses decided the only way to improve that formula was to add a little Prince and Michael Jordan into the mix.
We were swimming in sonic landscapes and really trying to paint a more airy version of the inside of our heads, keyboardist John Bowers said of the 09 record. With Dracula, we were more focused on the body and moving and feeling. Theres still elements of space and minimalism but ... we played a lot of basketball, just moving a lot. Thats where you feel the groove and danceability in these songs.
That stark shift in sound demanded a similar switch in how the music is delivered; whereas the second album, Apples Acre, was intended for the intimacy of headphones, Dracula is meant for a roaring speaker system.
I would say the energy is so high ... its an extroverted record, Bowers said. Overall, we better explored the frequency range: a lot of really deep, heavy grooves and bass drums that sound really good loud.
Ironically, the three opted to title the upbeat effort after something sinister, but only after some philosophizing. If you look past the initial implications of the word and all its baggage fangs and blood theres really interesting, life-affirming themes that run deeper, Bowers said. Theres loneliness, power, struggle, humanity and super-humanity all these things that we were emotionally dealing with while working on the record.
Strong reviews have followed from fans, critics and friends, the latter of whose opinions mattering the most.
Our friends are happy to see us pushing things in different directions and not trying to recycle ourselves, instead trying to challenge ourselves. Bowers said.
Now that Nurses has taken the new sound on tour stopping in Norman next Wednesday before a run of dates with The Mountain Goats the act gets to see its efforts come to fruition.
The energy is more lively and encourages people to dance and engage with the music, as opposed to a more meditative experience, Bowers said. Its a fun experience to play things and move peoples bodies.
Photo by Tyler Kohlhoff