Six years ago, The Rosebuds—the pop duo of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp—seemed insistent on doing everything at once. 2008’s Life Like, the group’s fourth LP, struck out in a variety of directions. There were flashes of the chilly synth hooks from the previous year’s Night of the Furies, sweeping folk sing-alongs and sleekly propulsive rock songs, each one accomplished with a new level of finesse. For once, The Rosebuds refused to rein in their various ambitions. The lack of focus served them well.
The years that followed were marked by a far different approach, one that continues on the serious and sumptuous Sand + Silence, the band’s forthcoming sixth LP, due out on Aug. 5. This will be the band's first LP without Merge Records, The Rosebuds' home since 2003. Instead, Sand + Silence arrives through Austin label Western Vinyl.
Realizing the maturity one would expect after more than a decade as a band (a period that saw Howard and Crisp marry and then subsequently divorce), The Rosebuds can now compartmentalize their diverse impulses. 2011’s Loud Planes Fly Low, the first record released after the couple’s romantic split in 2009, meanders through restrained rock songs. A year later, they were once more chasing slinky synth textures, delivering a surprisingly accomplished full-length cover of Sade’s Love Deluxe. Along the way, they also issued a charming Christmas collection and a pair of outlandish Halloween singles.
On Sand + Silence, The Rosebuds shape-shift again. The record concerns itself mostly with simmering soft-rock sounds imported from the ‘70s and ‘80s, a smart fit for the group’s moody melodies. It’s an aesthetic that could come off as kitsch, but The Rosebuds manage sincerity at every turn. The opening “In My Teeth,” for instance, backs Howard’s velvety croon with driving acoustic strums and elegant echos of distortion. A guitar-and-vocoder solo rips through the song’s middle portion, but its bright irreverence only heightens the desperation at the heart of the tune's chorus—”You found a way to see me/ I hold you here in my teeth/ I wanna work my loving arms."
Similar highlights abound throughout Sand + Silence, another solid outing from one of the Triangle’s most consistent musical exports, now spread between Brooklyn and Portland, Ore. Below, see a recently released teaser video—backed by “In My Teeth”—which finds The Rosebuds yucking it up with album contributors Nick Sanborn (Sylvan Esso) and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver).