November 26, 2007
Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures
Although I realize that this album is fairly old (their follow up, Asleep at Heaven's Gate has already been released), the album is fairly new to me. More importantly, it is far superior to their follow up, which is why I choose to write about it rather than the latter. I had been hearing of the band for years before I ever picked up a record, mainly as they are one of the larger bands signed to my favorite label, Subpop. When I finally did listen to one of their albums, I chose to listen to this particular album, the most recent at the time.
What I got from the album is much of what I expected given the music of the band's labelmates. The album is subdued rock, a little too experimental to be labeled pop, but too catchy to be labeled anything else. The opener, "Birds on a Wire" gives a accurate taste of what will follow, using sparse acoustic guitar overlayed with occasional bursts of heavily effected electric guitar. The chorus is as catchy as you'll find in music today, except for maybe later on this album.
The album follows this strong start with the four best songs on the album. Most notable here are "Love's Lost Guarentee" and "Salesman at the Day of the Parade". Both use soft acoustics to highlight one of this bands finest aspects: it's lyrics.
Unfortunately, the album cannot keep it's steam through the second half of the album, with the exception of the amazing "California". Each song eventually blends into the next, making the latter half of the album seem tedious, if not entirely repetitive. If it wasn't for the beautiful, and rather frequent, moments of magic on the first half, this may have dragged this album down. However, the album cannot be diminished. For any fan of labelmates the Shins or Band of Horses, this album is a must listen.