Rogue Wave
Permalight


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
February 25th, 2010 | 96 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An antidote for those cold, gloomy winter days.

“Will you be the bed for me when they set the world on fire / just to see it burn?” frontman Zach Schwartz asks on “Solitary Gun,” the opening song off Rogue Wave’s deliciously bouncy new record Permalight. For a band that has been through some of the hells Rogue Wave have suffered over the past few years, including the death of a former bandmate and one member’s struggle with kidney failure, “Solitary Gun” is an unexpected shot in the arm, a booster of unbridled joy and money hooks that belie the song’s apocalyptic images. Indeed, “Solitary Gun” is a most unlikely anthem, one that sets the tone for the rest of Permalight as a bright, buoyant beacon of hope.

Viewed through the context of the band’s three-year hiatus and the tragedies the members’ themselves have suffered, one would be forgiven for thinking that Permalight would be a dirge of a record, one mired in weepy indie pop and bent on exorcising the ghosts of its past. But while it does exorcise those ghosts, it does it in the most defiant way possible, through bubbling synths and lyrics about love machines like on the obscenely catchy “Good Morning (The Future),” or via quietly surging lullabies like the beautifully glacial “Sleepwalker.” Gone are the dreamy guitar-pop of their past and the constant Shins references – Rogue Wave have embraced electro to buff up their strikingly powerful guitar hooks, and rather than lose themselves in a fad they assimilate it flawlessly, as one listen to single “Good Morning (The Future)” quickly proves.

That’s not to say that the folksy heart of Schwartz’s songwriting has been subverted by mindless hooks; rather, the electronic additions to songs like the gently swelling “Fear Itself” and the jittery hooks of “Stars and Stripes” inject a whole new kind of life into the proceedings. But at the heart of it all is Schwartz’s relentlessly heartening songwriting, which floats from effortless pop-rock to whispery ballads with the same ease and, more importantly, the same strength, both lyrically and musically. It’s the way the gutsy bass line and ragged guitar slowly build to a hammering chorus on “Right With You,” the way “I’ll Never Leave You” somehow turns one of the more clichéd sentiments in rock ‘n roll into a heartrending promise with just a shaker, handclaps, and some beautiful harmonies, the way that every song here just seems overwhelmed with joy. It’s hard to describe the perfect hook with words, but suffice it to say that nearly every song here has that sublime ability to punch one right in the aural stomach, the place directly attached to your foot-tapping and singing-in-the-shower nerves.

This isn’t a perfect record, as made evident by the annoyingly repetitive title track or the way things sort of tail off by the last two songs, but it’s leagues ahead of your average indie pop album, and it’s certainly Rogue Wave’s best effort yet. Their ability to turn what would have wrecked many bands into an unfettered success is Permalight’s biggest triumph, and the listening experience is just as enticing a treat for the listener. More than anything else, though, Permalight stands out as a life-affirming testament to the human spirit, a collection of songs that come off as just so incredibly happy, so goddamn upbeat, that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it, with everything.



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Chart.
3.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2010


10498 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

stream: http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh191761884679485504

this album singlehandedly lifted me out of my february gloom. hard for me to describe just how damn happy this record sounds/makes me feel, so i tried to keep the review short.

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

AtavanHalen
February 25th 2010


17927 Comments


Good Morning is amazing.

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2010


10498 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

like half of the songs on here could be awesome singles, but that definitely hits the hardest. the chorus is insane

Kiran
Emeritus
February 25th 2010


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

solitary gun is sooo good

good review as always rudy

scotish
February 25th 2010


835 Comments


you just made my list of gets a little bit longer. again!

AggravatedYeti
February 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well I'm sold.

SeaAnemone
February 25th 2010


20534 Comments


ah I was gonna review this but you beat me to it! I didn't like this quite as much, but there ARE some great singles here, most notably "Solitary Gun."

Digging: Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

EmersonRhodes
February 25th 2010


19 Comments


good review. i've only heard Asleep At Heaven's Gate, but i thought that it was pretty good. gotta check this out.

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2010


10498 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sorry eric haha. yeah i didn't think this was anything special, mainly because i first just kept listening to the first songs because they were so damn good and thought everything else was kind of eh, but when i spent some time on it i was like 'damn everything here is so fucking good' (except for permalight, ick).

SeaAnemone
February 25th 2010


20534 Comments


I've only listened a little- you'r right though, I'll give it another shot

thebhoy
Emeritus
February 25th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I saw these guys with Stars and Death Cab two summers ago... made my little indie heart pitter-patter.

PuddlesPuddles
February 25th 2010


4784 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You recommended Pershing which means i have to check this out now

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2010


10498 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's awesome, i'm trying to listen to field music so i can review it but all i want to do is listen to this

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2010


10498 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good dog

Ire
February 25th 2010


41795 Comments


dog rape

Ire
February 25th 2010


41795 Comments


your the man now dawg!

robin
Emeritus
February 26th 2010


4249 Comments


rogue wave are the coolest

Romulus
February 26th 2010


8443 Comments


Got offered a ticket to see these guys live, do I take it having never heard them before?

CelestialDust
February 26th 2010


3155 Comments


i'll have to check this out, i love their cover of "everyday" and lake michigan

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2010


10498 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the everyday cover is awesome. and yes see them live it's solid, i'm seeing them in a couple of weeks



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