Rosebuds

Life Like

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

On their fourth full-length album, Life Like, the Rosebuds take a step back from the nearly overwhelming gothic darkness of Night of the Furies and return to a sound and feel reminiscent of their first album and EP. Not that the lyrics suddenly became all sweetness and light, they are still delving into gloomy matters and tackling murky emotions with abstract and poetic language. The fact that the musical backing is less synthetic and heavy than that of Furies makes Life Like an easier listen though, some of the tracks even have hit potential. "Cape Fear"'s hooky melody and Kelly Crisp's snappy vocals make a tale of man-eating catfish and third-degree burns palatable, "Bow to the Middle"'s bouncy beats and singalong chorus are tailor-made for indie rock dance clubs, and "Another Way In"'s somber Cure-ish atmosphere would fit well on late-night rotation. The glimmers of sunlight that break through the clouds intermittently on Life Like don't make the record any less of an emotionally charged affair, as Ivan Howard still sounds like every word he sings means the world to him, the arrangements still have plenty of drama, and the album has impact, both lyrically and musically. The subtlety with which they handle a song like the lyrically powerful "Nice Fox" is commendable, another band might have piled on the dramatics and instruments and made a pretentious mess of things but the Rosebuds don't. They show restraint and the album succeeds because of it. Indeed, their light touch and unfailing ability to deliver un-telegraphed emotional punches on Life Like make the album a strong addition to the Rosebuds already impressive catalog.

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