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Nurse and Soldier - Marginalia

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Artist: Nurse and Soldier

Album: Marginalia

Label: Brah

Review date: Feb. 20, 2007

Nurse and Soldier is a collaboration between Oneida’s Bobby Matador and his partner Erica Fletcher. Their first album, Marginalia, released on Bobby's own Brah records, presents an unnecessarily noisy and laconic take on the indie-pop formula. Any Oneida fan will immediately recognize that band's signature sounds. In fact, this could pass as a summer-tinged Oneida album heard through a neighbor’s window – washed out and accompanied by the whirring of filthy air conditioners.

There is a dose of pop rock, a dash of shoegazer, and a hint of classic psychedelic rock in the tremolo of organ accompaniments and guitars on Marginalia. The end result is an album composed almost entirely of simple, soothing indie pop wrapped in a muffle of quivering mechanical vibration. On some songs, particularly “Green Tea,” “Capture the Flag,” and “What You Wanted,” the effects obliterate the simple joys that might be had from these unhurried songs.

On most tracks, the vibration of the otherwise calm melodies is irritating but tolerable, like the hum of a refrigerator or the hiss of a radiator. The droll and mostly unfiltered vocals do little to neutralize the background annoyances, and the well-crafted lyrics are often lost in the shuffle. The most enjoyable songs are the shortest, which go on long enough to implant a few memorable phrases in your head without making you want to shake them out. In “Her Higher Education” and “Beatlemania” (the best tracks on the album), the buzzed- and fuzzed-out instrumentation creates a fitting landscape for consideration of the simple melodies. Taken as a whole, Nurse and Soldier’s Marginalia is a respectable effort, but is so caught up in unnecessary add-ons and uninspiring noise effects that is does little to give the lie to its title.

By Malini Sridharan

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