Aconsiderable step forward from what was an impressive debut, 2004’s Out Of The Shadow, Rogue Wave’s Descended Like Vultures sounds foremost like the work of a proper band, rather than a DIY effort from one immensely talented guy (Zach Rogue, in the case of Out Of The Shadow). And while that debut drew favorable comparisons to Sub Pop labelmates The Shins, Vultures moves beyond such a brand of meticulously crafted indie-pop, incorporating a range of textures that aren’t as immediately accessible as the delicate acoustic guitar harmonies that gave their previous album such immediate charm. Vultures is a bigger, grittier record, making exceptional use of dissonant elements, unexpected dynamics, and anti-pop shifts in time signatures, and the resulting album sounds like what Coldplay or Death Cab for Cutie would sound like if they were more influenced by latter-day Radiohead than by early-era Radiohead. It’s still excellent pop music—lead single “10:1” (released on an EP last summer) gives full heed of the added punch to Rogue Wave’s sound—but Vultures isn’t instantly recognizable as Rogue Wave, except for the unique timbre of Rogue’s tenor. If not as easy to embrace as its predecessor, the album compensates with a great deal more ambition in its scope, and given Death Cab’s recent commercial success, it should similarly build upon Rogue Wave’s fanbase.
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