The Rosebuds Birds Make Good Neighbors

Founded during a period that should have been spent on Ivan Howard and Kelly Crip’s honeymoon, the Rosebuds may be just rock couple schtick in the eyes of some, but on this, their second full-length album, they should put all nay saying to rest. To put it bluntly, their 2003 debut, Make Out, was a bit of a bore that never seemed to go beyond safe and sweet indie pop rock. Within seconds of the gleaming "Hold Hands & Fight,” Birds Make Good Neighbours erases any doubts their debut raised and will even have you wondering if it’s the same band. With a crisp, echo-laden texture akin to a number of ’80s acts like the Chameleons and Echo and the Bunnymen, the band adapt beautifully and come into their own sound (one not unlike their label-mates the Clientele, who could learn a thing or two here). Within this environment, Howard and Crip don’t fall completely into the ’80s; "Leaves Do Fall” springs about like a spaghetti western soundtrack and "The Lover’s Rights” has the dreamy sentimentality and kick of Phil Spector’s girl group material. However, it’s "Blue Bird” that is the showstopper, turning Howard into a butter-melting crooner as he smoothly speaks his words over sprawling reverb-heavy guitars and a faint, steady beat. Birds Make Good Neighbors is easily one of the nicest surprises of the year. (Merge)