Forgive me, for I have gone about my daily business without Rogue Wave in my life. It’s daft really as Sub Pop have had them in their bosom since 2003 when mainman Josh Rogue delivered debut Out Of The Shadow. But somehow they’ve managed to sit just under the radar. But with Death Cab For Cutie busy claiming space in American teen soaps and Guided By Voices finally clocking out of existence, there’s been an aching gap in the space-time continuum of bittersweet, foreboding indie rock.
However, the intimacy of Descended Like Vultures is instant, so much so that you can picture singer/guitarist Zach Rogue sat on his kitchen floor, with his morning coffee cooling as he messes around on a 4-track.
Opener Bird On A Wire has a gracefully crowing guitar that runs in at the final line of each verse, adding a sense of madness to a simply delicate song. The arrival of Publish My Love kicks in the killer rushes, lifting melodies up to the heavens and falling back into gentle acoustic breaks. Drums boom around like gaseous planets and guitars pick out the simplest celestial melodies. Part confessional, part observational, all of it has a wistful west-coast vibe. Are You On My Side spookily works its way around guitars and washes of harmonies whilst asking a lover for a fresh start. Medicine Ball is reminiscent of Life’s Rich Pageant-era REM, rolling through the dusky backwaters, echoing strange myths. Rogue’s voice has the ability to shift from a countryish Neil Young falsetto to the gritty tenderness of Elliot Smith.
Descended Like Vultures has none of the menace that the title suggests, but instead there’s plenty of distress, trepidation and steady reflection. It’s full of the minute anxieties of life that keep you awake in the early hours, but set to some of the most life-affirming sounds you’ll have heard for a long time.
9Lianne Steinberg's Score