“I can tell you stories if you really want to know” chimes in Zach Rogue during the first part of “Take It Slow”. The opening cut from Rogue Wave’s Delusions of Grand Fur is a light one but leaves a lot to be discovered; one that feels like something that could very well be emanating from your bedside alarm clock. On “Take It Slow” the Oakland indie pop-rock veterans dive into uncharted territory with layered and intertwined dream pop-esque vocals before launching into a fury of instrumentation, and a cessation thick with static swell and pounding drums.
The R.E.M. meets Lana Del Rey meets Tom Petty “California Bride” single has both somber and uplifting elements. “You know you’re never gonna find love,” sings Rogue, but it’s easy to mask the pessimism with poppy guitar strings and a chorus that curls up deep in the back of your mind. “California Bride” is easily the track that pulls together their cerebral and textured approach with their ingrained passion that still sits deep in their heart. It’s packed with a big punch, repeating the heavy, true tangible plea towards the track’s end – “well you’re never gonna find love”.
“What Is Left To Solve,” the lead single off Delusions of Grand Fur pulls together a great example of the direction the group might be heading, fusing together elements of new wave and krautrock with their iconic indie rock. Dominated by a steadfast bassline and meaty drums, the track echoes with an excessive degree of immediacy, taking the listener on highs and lows, toying with emotions, twisting and turning before leaving us high and dry. Amidst the generic harmonies, and soft synths, the urgency is palpable, “what is left to solve if everything’s my fault?”; the song’s end lending itself to something you might find on Delorean’s catalogue. “What Is Left To Solve” seems to also speak to the band’s yearning for resolution; a peak under the veil of their past in the future.
Longtime bandmates, vocalist/guitarist Zach Rogue and drummer/keyboardist Pat Spurgeon, will release their sixth studio album Delusions of Grand Fur at the end of the month, their first release in three years since 2013’s Nightingale Floors. Since 2002 they have been pouring out indie staples featured in TV shows such as the OC and feature films like Napolean Dynamite, but this time around the only remaining original members helm the forthcoming release, taking over full creative control.
Although it seems that songs from Delusions are comparable to some of their past material, it’s undeniable that there is a shift into new territory integrating aspects of new wave and krautrock, that makes one wonder if this speaks to their creative control over the whole project, whether it was a long time coming and if this is the direction we can see them going in.
If you’re looking for some damn catchy pop tracks, they’re there (“In The Morning”, “Look At Me”) or short Simon & Garfunkle-like acoustic ditties (“Falling”), soft twinkling ballads (“Curious Me”) and indie rock staples (“Ocean”) that rank among those of Death Cab for Cutie.
The record tells the tale of a turbulent past (an alternating line-up and constantly changing record label, the birth of Rogue’s daughter and the death of ex-bassist Evan Farrell), a striving quest for resolution (“What Is Left To Solve”), but a band no longer naïve about the future unknown.
review by Sean Carlin