The Rosebuds – Life Like

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Last time around the Howards, also known as The Rosebuds, offered us a swirling bundle of disco beats and dance tracks.  Beneath those bubbling hooks layers of darkness soothed out of the stereos, making melancholy danceable. This time around, they’ve stripped out of those disco clothes, revealing a straight-forward moody album titled Life Like.

Opening title track, “Life Like” presents a somber Ivan Howard looking back on his life, or his current state, warning those to come that there are more just like him.  The hollowed guitar work seems to mimic the emotive vocals, continually building an underlying darkness.

Juxtaposed to the opening track comes “Cape Fear,” which features Kelly singing in place of her man.  Despite a darkness in the search for a man-eating catfish, the vocals don’t quite seem to match that of her counterpart, making her feature tracks seem more positive.  It seems odd to have such a juxtaposition, but this is the one thing that makes the dynamic between the two so strong, on album, and life like.

One of the more special moments comes by way of “Nice Fox.”  It’s a pleasant ballad driven by chugging guitar strumming and darkened saloon piano.  The entire affair is made more meaningful with the presence of a backing choir full of the who’s who of the band’s various musical friends. Then comes “Black Hole,” which seems to have the band emulating the late great Grandaddy in a supremely slow fashion.

In the end you find that this album is full of storytelling, which is most likely due to the fact that the band owes the imagery in this album to their respective grandparents.  It reflects a band that is willing to look anywhere for their creativity, relying, always, on what they know best, or in the case of this album, what they feel.  Life Like is not coated in the past, and as it moves into the future, The Rosebuds continue to progress, always keeping their best elements as the focal point.

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