The Rosebuds Unwind
hen “El Camino,” the second track of The Rosebuds Unwind, rears its guitar-strummed head sounding like Coldplay’s “Yellow,” you have to hand it to Mr. and Mrs. Rosebud for taking it from surf rocky to quasi-British bedwetting in under three minutes. Thankfully, save for ten seconds of a song that ends up being one of the EP’s most salvageable, the aforementioned bands have little else in common. While Chris Martin’s buzzed head remains cocked and wondering why his pseudo-innocuous self warrants such unbridled hatred from Times writers, the Rosebuds are as innocuous as innocuous gets (unhateable, maybe, but equally un-fiercely-loveable).
Forget the White Stripes. Forget Mates of State. Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp are the cutest couple on this side of indieland—a land flowing with milk and sweet, sweet honey, fenced off from boy/girl twee pop-duos, gloomy folk gods and goddesses—having formed their retro pop outfit in the week after their wedding, in lieu of a honeymoon. With The Rosebuds Make Out, the couple promised and delivered power pop of the feel good variety; Unwind kicks off with “You Better Get Ready” and catches the duo, again, making promises that, “With the Rosebuds on the radio, she’ll be yours forever more.” With the Rosebuds on college radio, maybe, but if that’s the case, “forever” might mean nothing more than a word tossed around by crummy frat boyfriends.
The Rosebuds, at their best, keep it ephemeral; Make Out wasn’t so much a make out session as it was a kiss and run. Its last track, “Make Out Song,” was their debut’s only flaw—tacked on like an afterthought and way too slow to be a good make out song (unless they’re parodying the make out song, which seems unlikely, but in which case, never mind).
If Make Out is hurried (and perfectly, at that), Unwind is properly unwound (see, for example, the loungey “Unwind”). The cover art depicts some guy in plaid trunks diving into a pool circa 1970-something; a music video for any one of these songs would probably involve an anachronistic poolside birthday party, and Howard and Crisp donning instruments unnoticed by partygoers who share dispositions with Bill Murray in his poolside Rushmore scene. That said, Unwind—for all its nostalgic retro cool—fails to be memorable as anything but a rehashed other decade. Remember those guys, The Robot Ate Me? Neither do I. It’s kind of like that (i.e., forgettable indie pop, lovely for a summer month or two, but so is LFO). It’s also kind of like Jello, if you had to assign the Rosebuds to a food. At its best, it’s jiggly and wiggly and endorsed by Bill Cosby; at its worst, it’s spoon fed to bed-ridden hospital populace. Unwind—while pleasant enough—never quite realizes the potential Make Out hinted at.
Reviewed by: Rachel Khong
Reviewed on: 2005-07-08