Rogue Wave Nightingale Floors(Vagrant) Buy it from Insound
Rogue Wave are one of the few bands keeping the legacy of the Beatles' songwriting alive and doing it well. As the pervading trend in modern music is toward rhythm based forms that de-emphasize melody and harmony, they ride a different wave, if you’ll pardon the expression. Call it a throwback if you like, but I say more fool you. While their fellow tunesmiths, The Shins, have decided to grow and therefore don’t write good songs any more, Rogue Wave isn’t wavering from the formula that got them tepid props in Indieworld. Well folks, the record business has changed and the rewards aren’t what they used to be.
You know you’re listening to Rogue Wave, assuming you have any idea who they are, with just a few arpeggio-ed bars of music on opener No Magnatone. If that doesn’t convince you, proceed to track two, and listen to the kind of melody that pretends the last 25 years never happened. We all feel that way sometimes. They’ve always been enthusiasts of the reverb plate, but here they up the ante considerably. Everything is wet, wet, wet. I’ve lodged my minor objection to the liberal use of reverb, both historically and contemporaneously, particularly on the Fleet Panda records et al. I think it too often distances the performers from the listeners and provides a sonic wall to hide behind. It also provides a crutch, covering over perceived flaws in the recording. In my interview with producer Ken Scott for this site we discussed the possibility of taking all that Spector wall of sound nonsense off All Things Must Pass. He liked the idea but cautioned that once you do that, you never know what you might find hiding underneath. On this record, it sits just on this side of tolerable. It’s odd because these guys can put across a heart on your sleeve ballad with the best of them. When Sunday Morning Comes is such an example and would have benefited from a more direct sonic approach. Ditto The Closer I Get.
I don’t want to say if you have one Rogue Wave record you have them all, but there’s a consistency to the quality of their output and to their style that makes this record sound eerily familiar. If you’re going to say Rocket to Russia is a good album, and you should, you’ve got no business making lack of progress a bugaboo. That being said, while everything works on some level, not everything is as inspired as their finest moments, like their wonderful single Eyes. Yeah, but still. Zach Rogue seems incapable of writing a truly bad song. It’s a solid record; put it on and forget it. You’ll thank me.18 June, 2013 - 04:47 — Alan Shulman