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Permalight

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Album Review

Zach Rogue spent much of the time before the recording of Rogue Wave's fourth album, Permalight, confined to bed rest as a slipped disc or two in his neck healed and he gained back the use of his arm. An experience like that could send a songwriter in one of two directions; writing bleak, life-is-hell songs, or fighting back with upbeat, sunny songs, celebrating triumph over adversity. Rogue mostly chose option number two here. The album is filled with sparkling, uptempo tracks that are cheerful, danceable, and full of joy. They are decorated gaily with bubbling synths, handclaps, slick harmony vocals, and all kinds of cute production tricks that help turn songs like "Stars and Stripes," "Good Morning," and "You Have Boarded" into bright power poppers with plenty of pop. There are big hooks in these songs, plenty of singalong choruses, and a feeling of joy behind the singing and playing. It’s a huge change from the bland and over-cooked sound the band fell into on their previous record. On Asleep at Heaven’s Gate there seemed to be a real danger that they were headed into adult contemporary territory with no return trip booked. Only a couple songs on Permalight venture into this realm, mostly the ballads, though this time the songs are saved by the production tricks and Rogue's vocals. He, too, was headed in a bad direction on the last album, turning from a heartfelt, small-emotions guy into an arena-sized howler who sacrificed heart for show. Luckily, he’s dialed way back on the affectations and brings some real emotion to the slow songs, and a fun-filled, breezy approach to the uptempo tracks. The production, songs, and vocals are all perfectly in tune with each other, and the band has crafted a pretty impressive return to form. Permalight is still a far way from the bedroom origins of the group, but it’s also far from being a Coldplay knock-off, and anyone who’s been a fan from the start can certainly appreciate that. Tim Sendra, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 2002 in Bay Area, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Rogue Wave formed in 2002 when a newly unemployed Zach Rogue left his San Francisco home, visited friends in New York City, and returned to California with nearly a full album's worth of textured, cerebral indie pop. Rogue then quit his post in his previous group, the Desoto Reds, and finished the album, which was released on Rogue's own Responsive label under the title Out of the Shadow. As he was completing the record, Rogue decided to form a band in order to perform the material live, and he soon...
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Permalight, Rogue Wave
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