Back with their eighth studio album, The Rosebuds created the record with a little help from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. Following a decade of the duo being together, in which time Kelly Crisp and Ivan Howard, who were already an item when the band formed, married and later divorced, they seem to as artistically united as ever. Sand + Silence succeeds what was considered to be their break-up album of 2011, Loud Planes Fly Low. They have very much maintained their folksy, indie-rock sound that could be compared to the likes of The Shins and Goldspot. Arguably on their previous record this sound had a hint of a unique flamboyancy similar to early Arcade Fire, intertwined into the tracks “Woods” and “Come Visit Me.” Their sound seems to have mellowed, possibly under the influence of Vernon.
However both the opening and closing tracks of the album, “In My Teeth” and “Tiny Bones,” show how they have managed to retain some of the same poignancy. “Tiny Bones,” in particular, is the highpoint of the record, illustrating how this softer folksy sound has meshed well with the involvement of Vernon. The eerie and ghostly background noise of the woods on the track makes it stand out on a record that for the most part is comprised of upbeat indie-rock. The less distinctive examples of this on the record include “Walking” and “Mine Mine.” “Esse Quam Videri,” the latin motto for their North Carolina home state, offers up dashes of an 80s electro vibe. These more experimental moments on the record are showcased also on the track “Looking Forward,” being slow to start but is striking with atmospheric but slightly uneasy breaks.
Lyrically the record seems to lack profundity and possibly the same vigour of their previous work. It is more the variation melodically between optimistic indie-rock and the more experimental hooks that are more notable.