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Life Like

  The Rosebuds  
Release Date:


Reviewed by:
  Inspector Jason  

It's not every day that I hear a song that blends shoegazer with Americana alt-country, but The Rosebuds seamlessly connect the genres on Another Way In, the sixth track of their latest album, Life Like. The song kicks off with subtle acoustic strumming and a dusty gravel approach that recalls the music of Lucinda Williams, but quickly ascends into the My Bloody Valentine territory of ethereal swirling guitars.

Of course, The Rosebuds have always excelled at such unlikely convergences. When I first discovered The Rosebuds in late 2005, when I saw the band play at The Earl here in Atlanta, I was instantly drawn to the unique duality of their style. Their duality appeals to my own dualities. I have a tendency to play New Order, Depeche Mode, or Echo And The Bunnymen at high volumes while enjoying road trips across rural Southern landscapes of tin-roof houses, Spanish moss, and cotton fields. I remember spending afternoons helping my late grandparents attend to their pecan trees in south Alabama back in the late 80s, only to later relax inside with The Jesus And Mary Chain playing on my Walkman. I identify with The Rosebuds because the band is able to effortlessly bridge Deep South ties to family history with a love of new wave, shoegaze, and Manchester-esque pop sensibility. Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp of The Rosebuds have, indeed, reminisced in interviews about growing up around dirt-road towns while constantly hungering for the music of The Stone Roses and other such UK acts.

Life Like, the fourth full-length album from The Rosebuds, has a liner notes dedication to Kelly's grandmother, Ivan's grandfather, and to the stories that these grandparents told. Like the stories that grandparents pass along, the songs of Life Like are an irresistibly scattered assortment. Exuberant pop songs like Bow To The Middle drive the listener to the dance floor, while haunting gothic numbers like In The Backyard simply make one look at passing trees outside a car window.

The title track, Life Like, kicks off with guitar shimmer that will bring a smile to any fan of The Church. Cape Fear recalls Siouxsie And The Banshees, although I don't believe that Siouxsie Sioux has ever written a line about a catfish eating a man. After the second verse of Bow To The Middle, The Rosebuds have a Johnny Marr guitar moment that provides one of the most exhilarating moments of the album. Hello Darlin starts with a voice recording of Ivan's grandfather and veers into an otherworldly instrumental that I can only describe as what might have happened if the R.E.M. of the 1980s had helmed The Andy Griffith Show theme.

The Rosebuds go above and beyond the array of influences this time around, though, and this new album is the work of songwriters who are truly comfortable in their own skin. Life Like slightly retreats from the synth-pop gloss of the band's last album, Night Of The Furies, to perfect the band's strength at lending an airy Southern gothic feel to their guitar-driven power-pop that they showcased on their 2005 album, Birds Make Good Neighbors. Kelly Crisp has never sounded better and her voice on Black Hole would make Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins proud. On Border Guards, this album's closest kin to anything on Night Of The Furies, Ivan's vocals have a yearning maturity in their own right. Life Like is given extra shimmer from the additional instrumentation and production from the likes of Bon Iver, but this album is one that could only come from The Rosebuds themselves, who are no longer students of alternative music and are now masters.

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Also on EvilSponge:
    Concert: Sat.10.July.04
    Concert: Fri.20.May05
    EP: Unwind
    Album: Night of the Furies


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