The Rosebuds are sweet. Not the slang kind of “sweet” that one exclaims when they see a great skateboard trick. The traditional meaning of the word sweet, one that your grandmother might use to describe you in your first powder-blue tux going to prom. They are certainly not saccharine, but you can tell just by listening to them that they are nice, normal folks. Signed to the Chapel Hill, NC label Merge since their debut album came out in 2003, the duo is made up of formerly married couple Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp accompanied by a rotating cast of musicians supporting them, often friends from other bands signed to Merge.
While my first impression of The Rosebuds from previous albums was “indie-twee” they have crossed into what would appear to be the AAA bracket. Their sound, at least for Loud Planes Fly Low, has mellowed out into a comfortable, easy to listen to, 70’s influenced hum of relaxed melodies. The content of their songs is pretty relationship focused, clearly personal but written in such a way that those souls going through troubles can identify. The best examples of this are in the songs “Waiting For You” and “Come Visit Me,” something everyone on Sirius’s Adult Album Rock station (The Spectrum) could vibe to.
The songs that stand out to me are the bouncier upbeat tracks like “Woods.” Things get a little more rowdy when they proclaim things like “everyone out here is so high.” The songs overall have a tone of sadness, perhaps reflecting the recent divorce that the couple went through, and the struggle to come to terms with still being in a band together. “A Story” is a hazy fuzz of guitars that is also a stand out; basically, anything outside of the basic song structure norm is a good thing for this album. These tracks are reminiscent of some of the faster-paced tracks from earlier records.
Loud Planes Fly Low will certainly hit the right audience in that sweet spot that only AAA radio can reach. While the record lacks both the upbeat twee and the guitar strumming teeth of previous ones, it can be recognized a new chapter in the book of the Rosebuds, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.