Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rogue Wave - Nightingale Floors

“The gravity of career ambition/Never meant that much to me” sings Zach Rogue on “Figured It Out,” the third song in on their fifth release, Nightingale Floors. The statement is both expected and somewhat of a surprise, given how his band continually received nods (and checks) from television producers for their songs.

The band became ubiquitous with the soundtrack to any emotional moment of whatever young adult show was on at the time, and because of this it was unclear who or why the band was actually creating for. The surprise comes with the reality that, despite the band’s ability to market their songs, Rogue Wave has had some really bad luck personally.

For every successful song placement, there were other, much heavier things weighing on the band’s mind: from one band member dying in a fire, to another’s kidney transplant, to Zach Rogue’s own neck injury. If all of this wasn’t enough, Zach’s father passed away during Nightingale Floor’s creative process, making the band the epitome of the “if it wasn’t for bad luck” line, as bad luck seems to have been with them at every turn.

Which makes Nightingale Floors such a welcomed return, as it manages to regain some of their previous glories while incorporating some of those aforementioned setbacks into their creative muse. As awful as this may sound, those setbacks have made for an intensely personal album with a lot of introspective beauty, one that ranks as perhaps the band’s finest moment.

Some of the credit goes to producer John Congleton, who puts the band back into its mid-tempo groove and removes any of the dreaded electronic nonsense that deterred most fans from their last effort, Permalight. Congleton puts the band in a variety of atmospheric environments without seeming too claustrophobic. Instruments are pronounced and the studio trickery is evenly paced, contributing to a sound that is equal parts a fingerprint for this record and a lineage to the band’s previous highpoints.

Nightingale Floors breathes like it’s full of personal antidotes and feelings, but it’s the band’s musical arrangement that give the record a new lease on life for a variety of listeners. Whatever the intent, and from wherever the songs originated from, Rogue Wave have delivered a record that is free to mean something different for each unique listener. Prior experience has shown that this ability to provide a fluid response is often the sign of a great record.

With that in mind, even if Nightingale Floors is perhaps a decade too late in the public consciousness, Rogue Wave has indeed delivered a great record in the midst of their own private setbacks and very public missteps.

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