With a name like theirs you’d be forgiven for thinking Mad Nurse could most likely be found in a packed Glasgow club replaying the latest EDM chart-topping pile of cow dung, and not the sophisticated, shoe-gaze group that have made The Rip, both their first four-track EP and their first as a trio.
After a couple of years of building up to this release it’s clear the band have to prove themselves if they want to make an impact on what is an already formidable scene, and everything, from the EP cover, taken straight from Thought-Provoking Photographs: Volume One, to the challenging running times, suggests that you’re in for either one hell of a ride or one hell of a bore.
‘Violent Dreams’ showcases their talents right from the get-go, all melodic guitars and pounding drums that introduce the band, as it should – with a bang.
Their singer slinks around it all, his barely discernible vocals dissolving into the wall of sound and taking the track to another level.
As the track shifts towards a softer interlude halfway through, the group display what they can do with the space they have, and it’s exhilarating to hear as they drag themselves through the dirt and back.
‘Remains’ is even better, teetering on a sobbing bass line and building into a delightful piece of nighttime music; the stop/start structure and mournful piano gives the band more room to breathe as a jungle of delayed guitars rise and sigh and spiral out of control around them, and their cryptic lyrics compliment the first half perfectly.
The second half’s interlude focuses squarely on the band, and reinforces that this EP needs to be listened to in full if you want to reap the benefit – it’s a pulsing, soft development of small riffs into a much bigger picture, resulting in a beauty that remains long after the song is finished – this band knows its interludes.
That beauty is swiftly trampled by ‘Seven Shreds’; a lumbering beast that while not exactly a misstep is the only average song on an otherwise great EP.
Credit is due to them for trying, in a scene ridden with sub-par Mogwai’s getting lost in their effects pedals, to broaden their horizons and put out a competent power-chord song (although it does pick up – surprise, surprise – during the interlude).
More credit goes to ‘Future Perfect’, a slice of understated ambience that closes the EP in the best possible way – making you wish it was longer.
If this is the result of an ongoing development, then it sounds as if Mad Nurse have not only found a sound but, even better, will be able to expand beyond it and continue to explore as the fancy takes them.
More than anything, it’s genuinely exiting to witness a band incorporate what people have done before and put a number of spins on it until they coming up with something, whisper it, different.
Not the background noises, such as the guitar atmospherics – they’re hardly new, but it’s what they do with them as a flavour on each song’s musical palette rather than relying on them to make the song that sets them apart.
This is music that has been slaved over, taken hours and hours to shape and perfect each word, note, fill, modulation.
Music that can change people’s lives, given the right time and emotion.
It’s particularly hard to create great sonic textures song after song, that really lift the material to another plateau in the same vein as Simon Tong’s landscapes elevated The Verve’s Urban Hymns to a classic album, and while Mad Nurse don’t always succeed at this goal, they can boast this EP as a further example of their greatness besides the fantastic band name.
A force to be reckoned with.
Words: Andrew Maguire