Nurse & Soldier Marginalia

[Brah; 2007]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: psych-pop, bedroom pop, electronic DIY
Others: Oneida, Magnetic Fields, Eastern Stars

Marginalia, the second record by Nurse & Soldier, is a bedroom-style pop nugget, made as a one-off collaboration between Oneida’s Bobby Matador and his “longtime” partner, Erica Fletcher. It’s a combination of Oneida at their haziest and most sedate, and dimestore Tigerbeat 6-style synthesizer pop. Sometimes the combination works, sometimes it doesn’t. The juxtaposition is clearest between the record’s first two songs: the pleasingly-droney psych “Green Tea” butts up against the reedy, drum-machine driven “Capture the Flag.” For all the languidness of much of the material here, it can be a bit jarring. Compounding the problem are Fletcher’s vocals on many of the songs here; on “In the Dark,” “Brought Up Too Soon,” and “Beatlemania,” she sounds a bit flat or robotic; with more inflection, these songs would gain some nuance and heft.

Nurse & Soldier don’t actually begin to combine both styles into single songs until “Lies & Alterations,” a classic indie rocker that finally brings the record out of the bedroom. From there, “Fishing” is a perfectly moody instrumental, and while “Beatlemania” crosses the “cutesy” line, “Satellightning” is simple and elegiac, while “Her Higher Education” ends the record on a triumphant note. The final score, however, leaves us with only two memorably-good songs (“Her Higher Education” and “Lies & Alterations”), some well-executed filler, and a few clunkers. There’s enough promise here, though, to give a listen to both Marginalia and what will hopefully be a third record by the duo in the future.

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