Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Rogue Wave, Permalight

Rogue Wave
After hearing the early release of Rogue Wave’s new keyboard-heavy single, “Good Morning,” in January, I had what many music fans might call a “Huh?” moment.  Did this electro-beat track mark the beginning of a new direction for a band that can proudly point to three well-crafted, guitar-driven records in their catalogue? 
With the Rogue Wave’s new album, Permalight, lead singer Zach Rogue expressed that he wanted to focus on the “visceral experience of hearing music and letting your body move to it.”  Undoubtedly, Permalight is in large part the emergent product of Rogue’s health problems within the last two years, which included several anxiously immobile, bed-ridden months.  Permalight is thus a highly life-affirming album, trending more towards celebratory moments than the inquisitive frustration that had previously marked the band’s work. (more after the jump)More than any other Rogue Wave record, Permalight continually uses pop hooks to appropriately match the sunshiny, care-free album cover art.  The hooks aren’t bad, but they surely aren’t memorable, nor will they land a spot in the rotation of songs that entrench themselves in your head.   In Permalight, Zach Rogue frequently uses his voice as an instrument, which too often drowns out his vocal contributions altogether.  “Good Morning” and the title track are two such primary examples, eliciting mainly a shrug and a well-meaning smile from the listener who politely applauds the band’s adventurous effort at dance-rock.  
Permalight glimmers in the moments when it most resembles Rogue Wave’s second album, Descended Like Vultures.   Zach Rogue’s echoing voice and the texture from layered guitars on previous LPs have been sacrificed in large part, but are still evident in album highlights “We Will Make A Song Destroy” and “Fear Itself.”  From the point of view of a Rogue Wave fan, the album’s poignant closer, “All That Remains,” appropriately points to dissatisfaction many will feel after several hopeful listens of Permalight: “All that remains/Is all that reminds us of the sound/You’ve always known.”  
-- Scott Lensing

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