"It's hard to blame these gifted sisters for trying something new on their second album, but the album was still a disappointment after their brilliant debut. Part of the problem is the arrangements -- much of it is either bland folk/rock ("Bobby's Song" "Louis") or strained New Wave ("Nurds" - like the B52s on angel dust). The failed musical accompaniment was particularly striking if you heard these same songs performed live -- which I did 2 or 3 times during this period; the songs were always superior live (and I'm not a purist who prefers the Roches with just guitar/voice -- I love some of their later "arranged" work.) The other problem was that half of the songs were rather weak -- except Maggie's "One Season" (one of their best-ever songs) and "This Feminine Position" and Terre's funny/scary "My Sick Mind." Their a cappella cover of Cole Porter's "It's Bad for Me" is also wonderful, underscoring the beauty of their collective voices, and in keeping with their own wry/slapstick humor. After this album, they returned to the more spare sound of their debut (and to Robert Fripp as producer) and recorded one of their best albums -- KEEP ON DOING. NURDS is not their worst album - SPEAK and CAN WE GO HOME NOW are much weaker - but unless you're a completist you're better off with THE ROCHES, KEEP ON DOING and A DOVE (followed by ANOTHER WORLD if you can find it)."
mianfei | 05/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, geez... I don't normally offer up reviews, but it's just a crying shame that this great album doesn't have any. As with all other Roches albums, this one has utterly unique lyrics, lovely melodies, and infectious charm. I doubt that anyone would regret checking it out."
Good but not the best
mianfei | 05/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The first Roches album ("The Roches") was astonishingly good. This second one ("Nurds") is preferred by some, and does differ from the first one in some important ways. The songwriting is less Maggie-dominated. The production is a bit warmer and the arrangements a bit more instrumentally varied. And the vocals sound a bit more natural (Fripp put an electronic shimmer on the vocals on the first and third albums that is missing here). And though it has its high points--my faves are "This Feminine Position," "The Boat Family," and "The Death of Suzzy Roche"--it has its weak points too: the title track is kind of funny but doesn't sound good, the a capella cover of "It's Bad for Me" is boring, and the concert favorite "Factory Girl" sounds curiously flat.Overall it's a good album but I'd advise newcomers to start with the first one."
Surpasses the acclaimed debut
mianfei | 09/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Roches' self-titled 1979 debut won many accolades for its childlike, quirky folk music, even making the Billboard Top 100 due to a cover by Phoebe Snow of "The Married Men".
The unusual blend of childlike acoutic guitars and beautiful, almost angelic folk harmonies found on the debut, was, however, to be surpassed on the opening title cut of "Nurds". Here the three sisters show conclusively that they can be much tougher than people think, and what's more they do so without losing any of their superb harmonies. Rather, they seem to sing even better. "My Sick Mind" may be not so intense but its chorus features a similar rhythm and the singing really is incredible.
"The Death of Suzzy Roche" is a remarkably funny tale of people fighting in a public laundry - it might seem offensive but is in fact merely humorous. "Bobby's Song" is more in the vein of the first album but sharper, as is "The Boat Family" which sees the sisters chant about the problems of nutrition. Two older folk songs in the a capella "It's Bad For Me" and "Factory Girl" are performed with a stunning beauty and simplicity, as is "One Season" which is just so touching it cannot be overlooked. "Louis" combines the features of both to give a quiet-dreamy ballad that really was out of place in an era of aggressive, stripped-down rock and roll.
Though frequently overlooked, "Nurds" was in fact a major advance - with more touching and diverse material - on the sisters' very impressive debut. Together with the following Keep On Doing it represents the pinnacle of their achievement."