If the Rosebuds' 2003 debut, The Rosebuds Make Out, overflowed with pop songs of innocence, then their 2005 followup, Birds Make Good Neighbors, is brimming with songs of experience (apologies to William Blake). Opening with the dour "Hold Hands and Fight," the record takes a noticeably dark turn from the blissful, carefree Make Out. Even in this gloomier mood, the North Carolina husband/wife duo of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp still nod giddily and reverently toward '60s bubblegum, '70s power pop and '80s Brit pop. There are no lyrical tributes to the Smiths this time out, but there are definitely some musical and spiritual ones: The Dick Dale twang and sock-hop swing of "Leaves Do Fall" rank it among the best songs those Mancunians never wrote. Like Shakespeare's rough winds, growth and change might have shaken these darling buds, but they've come out smelling just as sweet.
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