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High stakes

Portland psych-pop band Nurses' artful new album

Photo: Tyler Kohlhoff, License: N/A

Tyler Kohlhoff


with the Mountain Goats
8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24
The Social, 407-246-1419


(Dead Oceans)

With their latest full-length album, Portland-based Nurses have re-imagined their sound with an astonishing degree of newfound originality. It throbs with the kind of forward-thinking psychedelic pop whose intrigue comes from the drive for unconventional dynamism rather than the need to hide behind obscuring filters and reverb. Where they land this time out is far more up-close and engaging than anything that came from that whole Animal Collective stampede.

In both sound and mood, there’s plenty in the kaleidoscopic Dracula that will lift you off your feet and into another state. But with a pronounced and striking rhythmic skeleton, the compositions always retain their focus, design and definition. Nothing here is by accident. Thick with clicks and clacks that trigger and massage the lobes, the grooves are simultaneously limber and tightly coiled. When juxtaposed with the album’s floating drift, the musical result is levitating but locked in, otherworldly but concrete, like a more pop-oriented Hear Hums. And this kind of tension is what makes the album more truly and effectively dizzying.

Outside of highlights like “Wouldn’t Tell” and the sweet, exhaling waft of an oldies vibe in “Trying to Reach You,” the arresting three-song opening salvo is where this record really pops. “Fever Dreams” is a stunning reverie that evokes reflection, curiosity and wonderment with its penetratingly winding vocals. “You Lookin’ Twice” captivates with a helix of percussive tendrils that ensnare, envelop and bewitch. And the lush, highly textural fabric of “Extra Fast” ripples forth in lusciously undulating caterpillar waves.

Chiseled, confident and artfully crafted, Dracula is without a doubt a defining, benchmark recording for Nurses.

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