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.