By Al Kaufman
Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp used to be a happily married couple that put out albums like The Rosebuds Make Out. Then they got divorced. But, like other couples going through turmoil (Richard and Linda Thompson, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox of Eurythmics, all of Fleetwood Mac) troubled times bring out more rewarding music. And while sometimes listening to one’s therapy session put to music can be a tedious task, the good ones find ways of making it enriching, of giving us reasons to empathize, and of making damn sure that musical portion of the project is not forgotten. With Loud Planes Fly Low, The Rosebuds are able to do that.
Indeed, Loud Planes is not as fun as earlier Rosebud recordings. Howard, who handles most of the vocal duties here, conjures up all the moroseness of Morrissey on “Limitless Arms” when he utters lines like, “It feels like I’m reaching out for the last time.” Amid the swelling strings of “Waiting for You” he laments, “I don’t want to live the rest of my days in a world confusing to me.” He reveals himself at his most vulnerable on “Without a Focus” when he confides “I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel,” when he looks over at his ex-wife everyday. It is the sound of pure anguish, and sounds like it should be downright maudlin, but comes off as more sophisticated and romantic.
For her part, Crisp is just as contemplative and reflective. “I need you to save me, even if it makes it worse,” she sings on “Come Visit Me.” The song, along with the track, “Woods,” offers a bouncier touch that is very much needed. But the Rosebuds still take their melodies seriously. “Second Bird of Paradise” has the sophisticated sexiness of a Sade song, while “A Story” has the sultry spookiness Chris Issak when writing for a David Lynch movie.
Yes, The Rosebuds look back with some traces of regret and even bitterness, but they also look forward to acceptance and rejuvenation. They have spilled their guts here, but they are fascinating, beautiful guts to behold.