The Mediæval Bæbes' fourth album, The Rose, stays close to the band's magical stories of Old and Middle English, but with a romance that's sweetly aged and mysterious. Katharine Blake and her eight singing sisters are enchanting on this album, a fantastic cut above 1999's Worldes Blysse due to their pleasurable soundscapes of medieval Welsh and Russian languages. They still stay close to harmonies in German, Italian, Latin, and medieval French, but an expansive change allows The Rose to be more than just a piece of work surrounded by threads of worldbeat. The Mediæval Bæbes find themselves in a different world. It's dark and haunting in spots, and the howling blackness of "The Circle of the Lustful" and eerie earthiness of "Spiriti" are miserably beautiful. Other songs are more playful with their fiddle, pipe, and string arrangements, most notably the classic Irish sounds of "Lick the Maypole." "Snake" boasts radiant harmonies, while the Mediæval Bæbes' booming worldbeat percussion reflects the album's varying tones of love. It's dramatic, theatrical, fleshy, and inspired. The women of this band possess all of those traits, making The Rose their most delicately maddening album yet. The Mediæval Bæbes aren't wistful, but a melancholy desire is there.
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson