More on 'Permalight'

March 04, 2010|By Sam Sessa | | Baltimore Sun reporter

The catastrophes hit West Coast indie rockers Rogue Wave one after the other.

Former member Evan Farrell died after a house fire, multi-instrumentalist Pat Spurgeon battled kidney failure and the rigors of dialysis, and front man Zach Rogue separated two discs in his neck, leaving him bedridden for months.

In the face of it all, Rogue Wave responded with "Permalight," its fourth and most upbeat album yet. Even the darker songs -- of which there are a few -- have a sense of urgency and enthusiasm that makes them sound ever so uplifting. It's Rogue Wave's most poignant album, and could be its best yet.

"Permalight" opens with Rogue alone on acoustic guitar, longingly wondering, "Will I follow you down the line?" It's one of the album's few solitary moments; after a few seconds, the pace picks up, propelled by the sharp crack of a snare drum.

"Good Morning (The Future)" is a straight-up dance tune, loaded with throbbing synth beats and keyboards and a catchy chorus. And the stripped-down acoustic track "I'll Never Leave You" has just enough distant drumming and light hand claps to give it a pulse.

Considering the struggles the band faced before recording it, "Permalight" could easily have been a dirge of an album. But it's clear Rogue and the rest of the gang wanted to make something more inspiring, and the listener is the better for it.

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