Last year, married North Carolinians Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp -- better known as The Rosebuds -- delivered a terrific album of dark, stylish, synth-heavy pop (Night of the Furies) that merged ominous imagery with Howard's nocturnal guitar, Crisp's jaunty keys, and the pair's dramatic vocal interplay in a manner that suggested early Cure combined with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. They've somehow managed to one-up that disc with the stunning new Life Like -- impeccably crafted, it's even more seductive and atmospheric than its predecessor; still lyrically obsessed with trouble and strife, yet packed with plenty of sweet melodies. It's much more guitar-centric as well, in a dream pop kind of way that also at times recalls the moodiness of "Pink Frost"-era Chills. It's fantastic stuff, delivered just as brilliantly live -- as proved by a live set I caught earlier this year. Definitely don't miss this one.