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Album Reviews

Review: The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low

The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low

Released: June 7, 2011
Label: Merge Records
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

The great thing about music is that it is never meant to be an isolated entity, always finding a way to intertwine itself with the listener’s emotions and experiences. Some music simply embodies the meaning of the word “fun,” while others speak to us when we’re in the darkest of moods. The Rosebuds have always been hard to define on this musical spectrum of emotions, ambiguously falling somewhere in-between. Their upbeat indie rock/folk sound has always been “enjoyable” musically, but lyrically, this happiness always been neutralized by their darker, tempered tales.

Their fifth studio album, Loud Planes Fly Low, is another beast entirely. After the release of 2008’s Life Like, the North Carolina duo divorced and the future of The Rosebuds was in grave danger. Loud Planes Fly Low is the byproduct of their life after divorce, capturing the whirlwind of emotions that Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp experienced while reconciling their partnership. With so much source material to draw from, the two manage to create their finest release yet and arguably one of this year’s best as well.

But Loud Planes Fly Low isn’t an album about break-up in general. It’s about a transition in their lives, finding the subtle balance between their romantic and working partnerships. It’s painful, but the two don’t mope; it’s been done before, but not cliché, it’s filled with sorrow from start to finish, but not depressing; it’s subdued at times, but not restrained. The record is a surprisingly quiet expression of the intense feelings being shared; although the music isn’t overtly powerful (cautious tempos and generally down-played melodies), the emotions shine through.

Calling for a new beginning rather than a return to older, happier times, the two seem troubled, yet ultimately content on where they stand. On album opener “Go Ahead”, endless waves of synths, organs, and layered vocals blend together to create a feeling of serenity inspired by Howard’s fantasies and dreams. “Go ahead, let’s plant a forest / Where we can hide when the city expels us. / We can sleep in the branches / Our own little outpost in the trees,” he croons, painting a bittersweet picture of what could have been. On album standout “Come Visit Me”, Crisp returns the favor with her painful admission, “And I want to feel something way out here / I need something to happen now, even if it fucks me up / Come visit me, way out here / I need you to see me, even if it makes it worse” with Howard harmonizing in the background. The two, as troubled as they are, make light of their pain by crystallizing it and expressing it fearlessly.

Employing poetry in its rawest form, the minimalistic “Without A Focus” and closing track “Worthwhile” solely feature Howard and his guitar, showing that while the feelings of acceptance and reconciliation are there, the heartbreak that he has felt is still raw and apparent all over; wearing his heart on his tattered sleeves, Howard pleads as he just manages to eke out, “All I want is to make this all worthwhile.”

In all respects, The Rosebuds have managed to create a gem that is clearly deserving of universal praise. It certainly wasn’t an easy recording process for the two, but they manage to do so, struggling with their own personal problems rather than directing their disappointment and pain at each other. The result? A powerful outpouring of emotions that engulfs listeners from the very start. While there’s no clear sense of closure here, that’s okay: Loud Planes Fly Low may signify the end of their romance, but it isn’t the end of The Rosebuds.


Standout Tracks: “Go Ahead”, “Come Visit Me”, and “Worthwhile”

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