Rogue Wave – Permalight
Let’s face it, Zach Rogue hasn’t had it easy. He was forced into rock n’ roll because of the dot-com bust, and his band lost a former member/friend in a fire, not to mention his own health issues. Through it all, Zach has tried to put a light on his life with Rogue Wave. Now comes the release of their fourth album, Permalight.
“Solitary Gun” begins the album on the right foot. It features Zach’s cool California vocals with a twangy guitar. Percussion here correlates to the song itself, brightening the aesthetic quality of the tune, despite the underlying dark theme. But, this is about as good as it will get.
“Good Morning” has Zach channeling a bit of Passion Pit as he uses synthesized beats to build the hook within the song. Somehow, the chorus sounds a lot like Postal Service (or Owl City if you like). It comes across really generic and uninspired, especially the bouncing beat that goes with the chorus. Such a song is shocking considering the depth in all the songs on Asleep at Heaven’s Gate. All that depth has clearly gone out the window; disappointing.
A lot of Permalight seems really mundane, if not a bit forced. “Stars and Stripes” features more of that out of place electronic palette. But, what hits you the most is the redundancy of the lyrics; you here the words stars and stripes too much to recollect any of the other banal details in the song. Similar issues plague the lyrics on “Fear Itself;” you can only repeat lyrics so many times before they lose all importance.
Don’t forget, however, that Rogue Wave has always been capable of crafting really good pop moments. “Right With You” seems like something Nada Surf would have done long ago, or maybe Ok Go. “I’ll Never Leave You” is also standing near the end of the album, but it’s one of the few tunes that really tugs at your heart. It’s a mostly acoustic number with some sort of shaker echoing in the background while Zach’s vocals carry the whole of the song. Much can be said, too, of “All That Remains.” It ends the album on a high note, at least as far as quality goes.
Looking back on Permalight as a whole, you can’t help but feel really let down. There are some moments here, like “I’ll Never Leave You” that show the abilities of Zach and his band, but you get the feeling throughout that the album is somehow left unfinished. It’s as if the label needed something, and this was all there was, which perhaps explains the foray into electronic backing during certain moments. Despite a few enjoyable moments, the album struggles to rise high like the previous Rogue Wave records.