It's nothing new for a songwriter to turn a crumbling relationship into an album of cathartic reflection. But when the breakup involves both halves of one band, that album becomes a conversation.
The Rosebuds—the once-married duo of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp—trace the outlines of their breakup on Loud Planes Fly Low. The sound, poppy yet melancholy, is an apt setting for an excavation of the details, one more chance to say what never could be said before. But in their case, moving on means sticking together as musical partners.
"I feel like I'm reaching out for the last time," Ivan sings on "Limitless Arms," a somber and ornate song that exemplifies the album: layered guitars and keyboards, surprisingly insistent drums, vocal harmonies and string flourishes.
"I need something to happen now, even if it fucks me up," sings Kelly on the Fleetwood Mac-like "Come Visit Me." "Come visit me way out here / I need you to see me, even if it makes it worse."
Other standouts include the psychedelic soul of lead track "Go Ahead," the percussive and edgy "Woods," and "Cover Ears," whose lyrics yield the album title.
With just acoustic guitar and strings, the plaintive "Worthwhile" is a fitting coda to the album—and the marriage—apologetic, caring, sad and wistful: "We could go on wishing all our lives / I would go on wishing we did it right."Published June 22, 2011 in the Tucson Weekly.
The Rosebuds - Life Like