Nurses lavish lush, Beach-Boy aspiring vocals atop brittle
minimalist percussion in a bedroom psychedelia that will remind you of Arcade
Fire for its exuberance, of Panda Bear for its disheveled artfulness.
The top layer is all Aaron Chapman, the singer, whose piercing
treble shakes in the middle range and completely breaks apart at the high end. No
matter, though, we’re not giving prizes for technical accomplishment, but
rather for the intense emotion his pipes can carry. Like Win Butler, he
wields vocal catches, tremors and bleats for maximum drama, and sometimes, he’s
a whole choir to himself, layering in heady counterparts and harmonies. On
airy, multi-layered “Bright Ideas,” he sounds like a gaggle of Animal
Collective-ists in full-on madrigal form. Later, with ebullient “Caterpillar
Playground,” Chapman’s singing runs free-form like liquid mercury over a boxy,
stripped down beat.
The beat. Ah, yes, that’s the other Nurse on duty,
multi-instrumentalist John Bowers, who
constructs the soaring architecture that surrounds Chapman’s voice. Bowers
frames each tune with the barest of accompaniments – a piano, a snare drum, a
tambourine, a bit of a capella whistling — yet some how achieves a largeness
of sonic space that far exceeds these tools. The two elements, voice and
instrumentation, come together best in “Lita,” near the end of Apple’s Acre.
Here a thudding four-on-the-floor beat, a smattering of piano chords, a distant
swell of organ support a jaunty tune that hangs somewhere between doo-wop’s
lush harmonizing, music hall old-time-y-ness and the wilder sort of freak folk
experimentation. Forget the doctor. Is
there a nurse in the house?
Standout Tracks: “Lita” “Caterpillar Playground” JENNIFER KELLY