Permalight, the name of Rogue Wave’s latest album, does not show up in the dictionary. But by listening to the album you get a pretty good feeling of what this word might mean, and Rogue Wave defines it with primary colors. There are poppy guitars, zipping synths, rich production and all manner of blipping and bubbling noises that add up to a musical statement of upbeat optimism, even in the face of confusing and disheartening times.
Zach Rogue, the singer, songwriter and founder of Rogue Wave, is no stranger to disheartening times, as he was bed-ridden with a slipped disc in his neck leading up to the recording of Permalight. He emerged from that painful stasis to make an album of energetic, joyful pop. “Good Morning (the Future)” serves as the thesis statement of Permalight: backed by an upbeat acoustic guitar and programmed drum beat, Rogue sings, “The future isn’t what it used to be / I’m not surprised,” but then the chorus swoops in and zooming synths surround Rogue’s voice as he melodically declares, “Your love always is assigned to me.” It’s a bubbly affirmation of what’s constant amidst doubts about what’s next, or what was supposed to be next.
Permalight is Rogue Wave’s fourth album and their second on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records label. Their debut album back in 2004 was called Out of the Shadow, and out Rogue Wave has emerged with their brand of colorful, sunny pop. After six years, Rogue Wave are obviously still believers in the uplifting power of well-written, enthusiastic pop music. In the song “Permalight” they give the clearest definition of what permalight is when they sing, “Turn the light on tonight / permalight / say goodnight!” So that’s what permalight is: light that endures the darkness.
- Ben Dixon