Almost three years after their patchy but in places brilliant last album Asleep At Heaven’s Gate Californian band Rogue Wave return with a far more consistent, upbeat slice of summery indie-pop.
Permalight has been a long time in the making and follows a run of commercial success for the band, whose tracks have now graced adverts for the likes of Microsoft and ESPN and appeared on TV shows from the OC to Heroes.
This commercial appeal has clearly not been lost on the band and Permalight is unashamedly aimed at a mass market, full of catchy melodies, sparky indie guitar riffs and slick vocal production.
While never quite reaching the heights of Asleep At Heaven’s Gates key tracks, such as ‘Like I Needed’ or ‘Lake Michigan’ its 12 songs are full of cheer and good throughout despite not being spectacular
Highlights include the infectiously catchy first single ‘Good Morning’. Here Rogue Wave frontman Zach Schwartz puts up little defence against the argument that his vocals often sound like Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service frontman Ben Gibbard.
Another highlight is ‘Sleepwalker’, which is among the more gentle tracks but has a welcome, laid back feel. Loops, strings and even electronica blend nicely with acoustic guitar on ‘Fear Itself’ and ‘We Will Make A Song Destroy’ is littered with catchy riffs.
There can be a danger with an alternative music website like ours to deride the commercial and sneer at those looking for mass appeal. But walking the tightrope between indie-cool and jolly factory pop is a tough task and Rogue Wave should be applauded for performing this feat well rather than criticised. Permalight is not going to start a revolution but the sparky brand of indie-pop showcased on Permalight will do just fine until that day comes.
by Joe Lepper, Mar 2010