The "does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?" argument manifests itself rather handily within the Rosebuds' newest full length album, Life Like. On one hand, The Rosebuds are notorious for drastically changing their sound from album to album. Their latest offering is a mixed bag of interesting juxtapositions-- ostentatious, yet intimately accessible; morose, but strangely upbeat; grandiose, but impossibly intricate. Perhaps the myriad of contrasts is an indication of the bands' latent creativity-- they're fully capable of covering a wide range of musical ground from album to album, drawing from all sorts of worldly influences without being pinned down by the inherent limitations of having "a sound." Or perhaps it's indicative of the creative direction the Raleigh, North Carolina duo are headed in, focusing rather on the inward, haunting complexity of the human psyche. Whatever the case, Life Like is a 33-minute collection of ten songs that couldn't be titled more appropriately.
Life Like's title-track opens the album with a hypnotic guitar progression under the dual vocals of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, who flirt with minor chord tonalities to produce a ghostly, whisping undertone. This easiness spills into the second track, "Cape Fear", executing a Wolf Parade tinged darkness that seemingly encapsulates the entire album.
However, Life Like is interspersed with swinging, doo-woppish dance tracks such as "Bow to the Middle", as well as acoustic country ballads like "Nice Fox" and "Hello Darling." The result is a nicely positioned change of pace that dissect the album well and provides a nice break that keeps Life Like from overunning itself with monotonous darkness.
The Rosebuds are able to accomplish a lot in a relatively short album, and therein lies the one fallacy of the album. Life Like, similarly to the real thing, is a bit too short, and doesn't do everything it seemingly seeks out to accomplish. It does, however, succeed in assembling a collection of songs that are both hauntingly resonant and at the same time easily digestible. The current incarnation of the Rosebuds are well worth the listen.- chris gayomali