reviewed by Michael Thomas
We’re supposed to be firmly in the digital age, aren’t we? The internet and digital media are supposed to have made things easier, and in many ways they have. But what if that laptop is the only place you’ve stored your project, and it’s stolen? Or what if you’re in the middle of a program that just decides to break down and delete all your data? You’re screwed, and the Nursery felt like the digital world was wreaking havoc on them as they recorded music. Enter Digital Ashes, the colourful pop group’s latest offering, that applies that sense of randomness and corruption to how it applies to life— as recorded in six catchy songs.
The band is once again just as visual as they are aural—from the tantalizing cover art to lyrics. The world of The Nursery is one of crystal beaches, a burning mechanical phoenix, games “twisted like rattlesnakes.” The lyrics paint as a picture as vivid as the music the band makes.
The band’s synth-pop confections always go big, with hook-laden choruses, but there’s a lot of unexpected instrumentation that kicks the songs up a notch. Previously single “She Speaks the Wave” has just the right sprinkling of dance-punk flavour thanks to the intense drumming, and “Oceans of You” feels like an ocean of sound—constantly shifting, from big swells of organ to laid back, surf-y guitars.
The title track links itself to the album’s theme quite nicely. The narrator’s memory is crumbling and corroding, turning into the aforementioned digital ashes. The second verse of the song also comes off as unexpectedly funky, adding an extra twist to the already frantic song. At the other end of the digital spectrum is closer “Xyoto’s Dream,” which is unlike anything the band have done so far. This song is a heavy wave of synthesizers, and featuring modded vocals that only say two things: “Where are we going?” and “You Will Break.” The slow, dream-like song is perhaps the corruption of data put to music.
And let’s not forget about “Hexes + Oh’s” (sadly not a reference to the great, defunct Montreal act), which wears the band’s Britpop influences proudly. Alex Pulec’s jittery vocals feel like something that might have come from the Talking Heads.
The Nursery’s bright, catchy songs are always a treat—they take an already colourful musical style and add an extra flavour to it. And a little extra colour is never a bad thing.
Top Track: “She Speaks the Wave”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)