Album Review: The Rosebuds, “Loud Planes Fly Low”, Latest Record Runs Deep
Michele | On 19, Sep 2011
Indie-rock duo The Rosebuds’ recent release of their fifth album, Loud Planes Fly Low, came not long after members Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp decided to put an end to their six-year marriage. Despite having spent the bulk of their music-making career as husband and wife, the end of their marriage did not signify the end of their partnership in songwriting. In the most recent issue of Under the Radar, Howard and Crisp, both multi-instrumentalists, discuss the uncharacteristically personal nature of the lyrical content in their latest musical endeavor. Both assert that the writing and recording of Loud Planes Fly Low post split proved a cathartic and emotionally honest experience (Studarus 18).
The intimate, diary-like 10-song account of Howard and Crisp’s shared college days and subsequent marriage results from freely conjuring up warm, nostalgia-evoking memories of the time they spent together. According to Under the Radar contributor Laura Studarus, Howard found insight when Crisp came up with the title lyrics “…loud planes fly low” in the song “Cover Ears”. Having realized what the album was about, he described the writing process as very genuine and free of emotional inhibition.
Beyond the artful arrangements, folky, almost psychedelic guitar grooves, and well-meshed harmony lie poetic and unrestrained lyrics. Right from the get-go with “Go Ahead”, Howard and Crisp sing lines like “Go ahead and plant a forest, where we can hide when the city expels us, we can sleep in the branches, our own little outpost in the trees… ”. Lyrics like these connote memories of a shared youth spent falling in love and romping through worlds created only by the imagination.
Each instrument on the record lends to a vast landscape of reflection sincerely expressed through song. String arrangements by Ari Picker (Lost in the Trees) create a collage of feeling in the songs, especially in “Limitless Arms” and “Second Bird of Paradise”. The strings in the latter elicit warmth and passion in some spots, and connote mystery and perhaps a hint of danger in others. The pizzicato strings nicely mirror the guitar motive that appears in the very beginning. Crisp and Howard’s voices in tandem complement each other almost perfectly, but it would be nice to hear Crisp’s voice in the forefront a little more often.
Stylistically, the ten tracks of Loud Planes Fly Low are rigorously cohesive. However, atmospheric diversity almost longs to peak through the consistently introspective, harmony-rich, string-infused tunes that are perfect for the unearthly hours of the night. “Come Visit Me” may be one of the only potentially bop-able tracks on the record, and is also one of the only songs in which Kelly Crisp showcases her singing.
“Cover Ears” is perhaps the most like-able track on the album, mostly for its “…loud planes fly low” vocal line, which seems slightly ominous over a chord progression whose qualities (major/minor) are difficult to decipher due to the busy patchwork of instruments. That melody line seems to yearn for a specific harmony, to be sung hypothetically by Crisp, as Howard sings the lead. Its absence leaves a hole in my aural spectrum, so I sing it (out loud) almost every time I listen to the song. On a different note, the transition from the previous song, “A Story”, to “Cover Ears” is incredibly seamless and very neat, for lack of a better word.
But to revise my previous criticism of the stylistic diversity on the album- musicians shouldn’t really be subject to such an assessment. Artists create works of art primarily to realize their own self-expression, and it’s up to the public to appreciate it or discard it. So whatever stylistic cohesion or versatility weaves its way into this album, that’s exactly the way it is, because that’s how the songwriters intended it.
All comments on style and mood aside, the entire album is a welcome addition to any music library. Howard and Crisp’s first collaboration post marital mortem allows the listener to be privy to intimate, almost romantic stories that unlock rooms and corners in the former couple’s memories. These rooms and corners, eloquently and vividly evoked, transport, illuminate, ignite flames, transcend limits, and portray images that only the mind’s eye can awaken. What better way to record a beautiful history than through song?
Studarus, Laura. “The Rosebuds: Love and Loss.” Under the Radar July 2011: 18. Print.