Birds Make Good Neighbors
ne must imagine how the atmosphere must be on tour or in the studio if you're in a band with your husband, wife, brother, or sister. Bickering must be the norm, right? Well, if you look in the direction of the success of The Arcade Fire (husband and wife) or The Fiery Furnaces (brother and sister), it may seem that the musical chemistry is extraordinary—that genuine relationships often create genuine music. The Rosebuds are no different. The husband and wife duo of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, along with drummer Billy Alphin, present a simplistic yet effective approach of guitar, keyboards, and drums drenched over Howard's smooth, bluesy vocals.
It's seems that the touring that The Rosebuds have been doing of late with Teenage Fanclub has rubbed off: tracks like "Boxcar" and "The Lovers' Rights" reveal an obvious influence. "Boxcar," for example, plys its trade on a simple guitar riff and catchy chorus: "But I'm not crazy, I'm just a little boy, and you're not crazy, you're just a little girl," which upon hearing many will find stuck in their head for quite some time. It’s not the lyrics, though, that work as much as it is the music: the brilliant hooks throughout Birds Make Good Neighbors make up for any lack of lyrical progression from their previous work. And musically, the song remains the same: The Rosebuds once again easily meld different sounds across the album, much like TheRosebudsMakeOut did, with its line-up of half-acoustic songs and half-upbeat electric tunes. Here, the only difference is the addition of the aforementioned blues.
The slower paced and acoustic songs, often laced with a repeating drum beat and a keyboard come into play on “Wildcat,” “Warm Where You Lay,” and “4-Track Love Song.” While these songs do some justice to the diversity of the album, the latter two (which close the album) are dull for much of their length. This is a change from the last time out: while the acoustic songs on TheRosebudsMakeOut shined over the electric material (most of the time), Birds Make Good Neighbors’s upbeat rock songs such as "Boxcar" inexplicably shine. "Blue Bird," one of the album’s highlights, interweaves all three of their primary genres in a beautiful way, making it an unforgettable and undeniable ballad.
All in all, The Rosebuds' sophomore continues where the first left off, with hook after hook grabbing you throughout the album. The trio from North Carolina will surely gain even more recognition this time out with another strong and memorable album. There seems to be something for everyone on Birds Make Good Neighbors, which is something often lacking in the indie pop genre.
Reviewed by: Mike Mineo
Reviewed on: 2005-08-30