The Rosebuds first post-Merge record, Sand + Silence, tries to address the elephant in the room since the band’s masterful break up record, Loud Planes Fly Low: how does the band move on?
Since the 2011 masterpiece, The Rosebuds have distracted themselves with gimmicks like a Christmas record and a re-interpretation of Sade’s Love Deluxe. Sand + Silence finally brings Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp back together along with friends Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Matt McCaughan (Bon Iver) and Nick Sanborn (Megafaun, Sylvan Esso) to help ease the transition.
The results are mixed. Songs like “In My Teeth” and “Blue Eyes” stand out with strong melodies. The latter will appeal to fans of pre-Ruby Red The Love Language with its big, bright chorus.
Howard dominates the record and tours through Rosebud-style takes on 50s, 60s and 70s pop sounds. The contributions from the star studded lineup don’t sound like they add much. Sand + Silence feels incredibly safe. It’s a fine record, but it’s rarely memorable. The second half of the album in particular feels like a grab bag of genres with little cohesion.
Howard and Crisp are cautiously exploring how to work together in their new context. With that in mind, Sand + Silence may be an important record for the band’s growth and working relationship, but that process has made The Rosebuds music mediocre for the moment.
Sand + Silence is out now on Western Vinyl.