Ah, Spring. When a young prog-fan’s mind turns to thoughts of new releases, which seem to come in droves during this time of the year. I’ve been recently listening to a bunch of music that has come out by several bands, some new and some familiar. Today I’ll be looking at the unfortunately-named RPWL’s newest release, Wanted. RPWL started life out as a Pink Floyd tribute band, and that influence has been both a blessing and a curse to their output. A blessing, because Pink Floyd is awesome, but a curse because they sometimes seem so indebted to Floyd that they struggle to distinguish their own identity (if David Gilmour had a German accent, he’d be Yogi Lang). In Wanted, the Floydian slips are still there, but the band has done a better job of presenting their own sound. As a result, Wanted may be RPWL’s best effort to date.
Track 1. Revelation (Instrumental) – starts out with a percussive synth loop which gradually builds, adding guitar, bass and keyboard eventually cranking it up to a degree that is atypical of this often mellow band. After that, the song comes back down to a smoother portion before ‘Floyding’ out. All in all, a nice, if not earth-shattering track.
Track 2. Swords and Guns – The first (and last?) single of this album starts with the sound of marching feet, to which bass is added before the full band comes in along with vocals droning what will become the song’s refrain. The song is about fighting and killing in the name of religion, a fairly ubiquitous rock music theme to which this album will return. After proceeding through a verse and chorus, the song comes down to a bridge wherein we get to enjoy Yogi Lang’s -David Gilmour with an accent – vocal style. The song ends after a nice keyboard solo by returning to the marching refrain. A good track, but maybe a little long (8:30+) for what it is.
Track 3. A Clear Cut Line – A nice little ambient instrumental. I like it, but probably would have moved it further into the album.
Track 4. Wanted – This is actually a more obvious single to my mind than is Swords and Guns. It’s a slick, mid-tempo pop/rock tune with a strong hook in the chorus and driving, steady beat. There is enough going on with the keyboards to keep it interesting. I quite like it.
Track 5. Hide and Seek – A track that alternates between sweetly-sung acoustic passages and heavier rock moments. While a commonly used effect in music; it is nevertheless well done here as the more helter-skelter bits do a nice job of creating a musical landscape that creates a real desire for something sweeter and more relaxing. Of course, the soft passages belie the lyrical content of those moments, which truly enhances the atmosphere of the song.
Track 6. Disbelief – I don’t like rap. I don’t like it ever. I don’t like it over a cool guitar riff and leading up to a nice chorus. Which is too bad, because this part of the song is very nice: But the first part of the song sounds like this:
Track 7. Misguided Thought – This is, to me, the most overtly Floydian track. Very smooth, almost meandering along with a nice verse and chorus, the lyrics more biting than the music would suggest.
Track 8. Perfect Day – Another mid-tempo rock song based upon a keyboard loop and complimentary guitar lick. The song doesn’t vary much throughout its course, but it also doesn’t over stay its welcome.
Track 9. Still Asleep (bonus track) – Starts with just voice and acoustic guitar with the lyrics accusing religion of holding mankind back from its full potential. It’s far more melodic vocally than Roger Waters ever managed, but it’s definitely his type of song. This is a good thing.
Track 10. The Attack – The best and longest track on the album. Starts with the kind of dirty guitar/bass line for which I am a complete sucker and which is used as the basis for this somewhat heavier track. The track keeps itself fairly spartan for the first 3:00 minutes, either featuring guitar/bass drum (largely without riding the crash cymbal, or keyboards but not the whole band until the instrumental break at the 3:05 mark. This segues to the chorus. From here the song has a slow space-rock section which gradually builds to a nice mid-tempo section which serves as the emotional highpoint of the song. Then to the best guitar solo on the album and I nice fade that recaps the intro. Nicely done.
Track 11. A New Dawn. – This is the “Imagine” of the album. A very pretty and stripped-down number filled with over-simplified visions of a utopian future that actually sounds kind of scary if one thinks about it. Still, a very nice listen.
I think that RPWL is an upper-mid tier contemporary progressive rock band with strong melodic sensibilities, but borrowing a little to heavily from their primary influence, Pink Floyd. This album moves them forward from that a step, bringing some new identity to their sound. Lyrically, the album is supposedly a concept album about a group of people who find the key to societal happiness and then have to retreat underground when organized religions persecute them. Really, it’s just a polemic against religion, which is fine and well, but layered on a little thickly. Still, even with some flaws, the album is a good listen and functions decently as background music, but is also interesting enough for more active listening. I give it 7/10 ProgBones ™.