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splendid > reviews > 6/25/2004
Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave
Out Of The Shadow
Sub Pop


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Endless Shovel"

Buy me now
San-Franciscan four-piece Rogue Wave have an astonishing knack for crafting resonant pop numbers. The twelve tracks on Out Of The Shadow consistently showcase intricate harmonies, upbeat rhythms and sing-along verses. Opener "Every Moment" sets the disc's pace with frontman Zach Rogue's vocal versatility (think Ted Leo), Gram LeBron's chiming guitars, Sonya Westcott's lilting bassline and vocal harmonies and Pat Spurgeon's rumbling drums and electronic brushes. Every sound here is perfectly constructed, due largely to the effectiveness with which the band members realise their personal roles within the group. They hold pretty closely to these roles throughout the disc, and the result is more stimulating and less stifling than you might imagine.

Throughout the disc, Rogue indulges his affinity for sombre, Elliott Smith-style baroque pop. Inventive acoustic finger-picking, harmonicas and subtle electronic effects are prominent in "Be Kind & Remind" and "Kicking The Heart Out". However, despite their gorgeously vibrant melodies, these songs lack genuine personal intensity and never reach the heights of the band's more upbeat work. Likewise, the alt-country-inspired "Seasick On Land", with its lilting lap-steel atmospherics, offers little beyond a catchy melody -- until it explodes, its bouncing rhythm and snare accents establishing it as one of the album's most accomplished tracks.

Rogue Wave are clearly at their best when they rock out with restraint. "Sewn Up" eases in from the acoustic strums of "Postage Stamp World", rapidly escalating with a jangly acoustic guitar and underlying distortion. Sturgeon's drumming prowess is as clear as ever: he alternates from cymbal smashes to light hi-hat rattling. Minimal key-chimes punctuate Rogue's almost unintelligible, effects-drenched vocals.

Despite the band's penchant for uneven electronic dirges, Out Of The Shadow is a very accessible work -- perhaps too accessible for indie enthusiasts who thrive on innovation and sonic exploration. However, for listeners who need a daily dose of unpretentious, straight-ahead indie-pop, Rogue Wave are an obvious choice.



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