Rogue Wave “Permalight”

Brushfire 2010

Zach Rogue might have made believers out of many—including myself—with the debut Rogue Wave release, “Out of the Shadow”, but this has backfired on his band somewhat. The greatness of that first album, with its straight-from-the-bedroom quality, was apparently not well representative of Rogue’s intended direction for the Wave. The next two albums stray further from the feel of the first, yet they still retain the vulnerable whimsy that made Rogue’s songwriting stand out in the first place.

However, the overtly commercial feel of “Permalight” suggests the band is simply going for broke—and considering the quality of some of these songs, that just might be what happens in the end. I don’t want this to be the case, mind you—I really like Rogue Wave, and would very much like to give them a rave review. I can’t, though—not with “Permalight”. It’s just not an album to really rave about.

Here’s my thinking: Rogue Wave have come really close to having bona fide HITS, most notably a song called “Eyes” that was released on an I-Tunes exclusive EP. That song has been in every movie and TV romantic comedy or drama in the past three years. This all kind of happened in the lull between this new album and their last, 2007’s “Asleep at Heaven’s Gate”. It seems like during that time, Rogue was most likely facing a ton of pressure to pump out a bunch of hits on “Permalight”. This would explain the unforgiveable raved-out drum machines on the lead single “Good Morning (The Future)”, and the supremely dumbed-down choruses of the title track.

It’s common to see some grace under pressure, as well. “Stars and Stripes” and “Right with You” are bright and energetic rockers that recall some of the best Rogue Wave songs despite their obvious feel of singles. There are some really good hooks in these songs, but something about them just feels kind of tossed off and uninspired. Oddly enough, one of my favorite songs on the album is buried in the sequencing (“We Will Make a Song Destroy”). Another one of my faves, “Fear Itself”, is a slower jam that probably won’t be seeing radio play anytime soon.

Though “Permalight” is arguably the worst record yet released from Rogue Wave, it still captures some moments of greatness from Rogue the songwriter. As an album, it feels weighted down by the humorless presence of the record business, but the songs that were not focused on as singles are some of the best of the bunch. There are enough of them to really help this record seem less like an assembly line product and more like something that might be worth hearing eventually. ***

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One Response to “Rogue Wave “Permalight””

  1. Record Geek Heaven: Rogue Wave “Permalight” « The Dead Girls Project Says:

    […] Zach Rogue might have made believers out of many—including myself—with the debut Rogue Wave release, “Out of the Shadow”, but this has backfired on his band somewhat. The greatness of that first album, with its straight-from-the-bedroom quality, was apparently not well representative of Rogue’s intended direction for the Wave. The next two albums stray further from the feel of the first, yet they still retain the vulnerable whimsy that made Rogue’s songwriting stand out in the first place. Read the rest of this entry […]

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