Saturday, January 27, 2007

While Ye May

The Rosebuds, Night of the
Furies, Merge Records [4/10/07]

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

-- "To the Virgins, to make much of Time" by Robert Herrick (1591–1674)

Like Matador or post-grunge Sub Pop, North Carolina's Merge Records doesn't have a signature sound. Acts include Destroyer, Robert Pollard, Spoon, M. Ward, and the Clean's David Kilgour. Raleigh's Rosebuds represent the lighter end of the sonic spectrum. In other words, the two are more Camera Obscura than Arcade Fire. Other non-Merge bands they bring to mind include the Human League, the Postal Service, and the Magic Numbers.

The third long-player from Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, after The Rosebuds Make Out (2003) and Birds Make Good Neighbors (2005), features boy-girl vocals over a bed of dreamy dance-pop. There's something vaguely 1980s about Night of the Furies--hence the comparison to the Human League--but I wouldn't call it post-punk or new wave. Their music is neither angular nor bouncy enough to fit those descriptions.

Of course, I also described the Bird and the Bee as dance-pop, but the two sound nothing alike. B&B take a more direct approach. The Rosebuds are duskier and more atmospheric. While they don't quite remind me of Echo and the Bunnymen, I would imagine they've spent some quality time with the Liverpudlian quartet, along with their contemporaries, like the Teardrop Explodes.

I've listened to this CD a few times now, and I can't find anything objectionable about it, but nor does it move me in any way. That doesn't mean the duo is incompetent or lacking in substance. It just means I'd rather listen to Camera Obscura or the Bird and the Bee. The Rosebuds could play on a bill with either outfit, and it would make perfect sense, but they aren't ready to headline yet.

Endnote: Please click here to sample tracks from earlier recordings. Upon reflection, it's possible that "married people pop" isn't for me, although I do have a soft spot for the Mamas and the Papas (RIP, Denny Doherty), Mates of State, and the Submarines, so I can't say I'm completely opposed to it. Images from Merge Records, poem from The Oxford Book of English Verse.


prince edward said...

what moves me about the album is the dancy dreamy melancholy that no band since probably new order has been able to create. it's no doubt their best release yet.

kathy fennessy said...

Thanks so much for your comment. It's nice to have another perspective on the band/album. I don't really know why some records move me, while others don't. It's something I'm still trying to figure out...