Kevin Liedel’s review of “Permalight” by Rogue Wave

Rogue Wave

Band: Rogue Wave

Album: Permalight

Critic: Kevin Liedel

Publication: Slant, 2010

Writing Disorders: Detachment Syndrome, Jargon Palsy

Most Sterile Phrase: “threadbare, pastoral simplicity, youthful exuberance, and warm-blooded nuance”

Ugh: “the most derivative and grating vocal mimicry of Benjamin Gibbard this side of Owl City”




Kevin, have a seat. Comfortable? Good, good. Now then…let’s start with the positive. You didn’t write a long review.


Now let’s get to the bad.


“At times an acoustic, SoCal splendor that illuminates the Oakland quartet’s folksy charisma, the album often commits inexplicable about-faces”


Damn, I was expecting a three-page short story about how the band’s SoCal splendor slays the dragon and saves the princess. Kevin, when I encounter two commas and 15 words separating the first word of a sentence and its subject, my brain reflexively grabs onto the closest noun as the lead actor. Maybe it’s my Polish brain to blame, but would it have killed you to just start the damn sentence with “the album?”


While you mull that over, let’s continue along this particular stretch of the feces brick road:


“the album often commits inexplicable about-faces, leaving its listeners with jarring electrified pop experiments ill-suited to Rogue Wave’s mien.”


Kevin, what “listeners” are you talking about? Did you put an addendum on the 2010 Census asking respondents to rate their feelings on “inexplicable about-faces?” Did all your friends coincidentally come to the same “jarring electrified pop” conclusion after you lent them the album? Did you have any reason for using the third-person plural other than to pad your opinion to make it heavier? It’s a music review, not something engraved on the Voyager disc. Can you speak for yourself, earthling, or is that too ill-suited for your mien?


You crammed this review with a lot of junk, but here’s my favorite bit:


“While the album’s stumbling side is often allayed by the simple rawness of Rogue Wave’s strumming, handclapping sensibility, things still go awry, and often rather painfully.”


You know, Kevin, I once had a history teacher who nearly flunked the whole class for writing juxtaposed modifiers. If only you were so lucky. Unless you set your iPod to 140 decibels, using the word “painfully” to describe a piece of music is melodramatic, wouldn’t you say? Also, what the hell is “handclapping sensibility?” You mean the musicians know the lost secret of enticing listeners into pounding their palms together to a beat? Damn, you must have voided your bowels when the Rembrandts cut “I’ll Be There for You.” And I thought “pop sensibility” was an ugly strain of ball pox in music writing…


I’m going to close this on your opening, Kevin. I’d stay longer but I need my beauty sleep.


“To say that Rogue Wave’s Permalight is a two-faced record is critical understatement at its finest.”


Well, allow me to retort. I think a critical understatement at its finest would be to not state the critique at all. However, if you’re unable to completely stave your compulsion to rescue virgin ears from “clumsy pieces,” don’t worry. There’s another way to elaborate on how a band’s music doesn’t fit your square hole, and it’s a step higher on the statement ladder too. If an album doesn’t make the warm feelings become a throbbing drumbeat, maybe write an email to the band humbly asking them to take your misgivings to heart.