Label: Gentle Art Of Music
Review: Jason Spencer
Thoughts: Some albums are challenging to review. RPWL's new album Wanted (2014) is certainly one of these. It actually sparked a discussion on my Facebook page "The PROG Mind" about the ultimate meaning of lyrics and about how a reviewer should consider them. More on that later.
RPWL have so much personality. Their music definitely leans on Pink Floyd stylistically, but I don't feel that they are derivative or a clone. Their music, while built on a specific foundation, is lively, varied, and extremely interesting. The music gets your attention so well through layers and layers of different sounds. In fact, on first listen to Wanted (2014), I was immediately gripped.
The band mixes a Gilmour-esque guitar structure with awesome bass lines and equally awesome keys. Kalle Wallner on guitar is magical with his excellent solos and his driving, distorted licks. Werner Taus on bass is perfect with his funky and truly inventive bass grooves. His rhythms work their way in and out of the music with wonderful results. Yogi and Markus on keys are probably my favorite, though. The keys range from awesome synth and organ to piano and electronic passages. The keys not only provide atmosphere and solos, but they are also a method of transition between sections. There are loads of sound effects present, too, that I personally like. I'm not sure what others think of sound effects in the music, but I find they create a unique and memorable experience. The rest of the band are excellent, as well. Marc Turiaux on drums may be the unsung hero here, though. His excellent rhythms and fills complete and drive the music well. Yogi on vocals has a mellow voice, delicate and rather emotional, too. His message that he is pushing is definitely felt from his heart.
The music, in a nutshell, is like Pink Floyd on steroids and with a funky pop twist. It's rather upbeat at points, dark in others, and definitely features a progression from dark to almost atmospherically light. It's as if the end of the album represents an epiphany musically. I really like the thought put into this structure and into the personal touches and subtleties that stand out throughout the album.
Lyrics are important to me, though. I can't rate an album without first understanding and considering the lyrics and their content. However, I also realize that lyrics represent their writers' thoughts and ideas, and I have respect for differing views. Again, however, as a critic, it's my job to provide information. Wanted (2014) is basically about the paradise and unity that would result if religion were to be eradicated. Religion is seen an illusion, and those that adhere to it as blind, intolerant sheep. Now, I'm not going to go into this, even though I could. But, I will say that the lyrics are very well written. They are challenging and written in a mature manner. I respect that. But, in my opinion, they are ultimately uninformed about history and reality.
Overall, though, this album is excellent. No, it's more than excellent. It's stunning. The musical personality on display here is top tier, as are the composition skills and execution. The band is certainly playing like a well-oiled machine, full of ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. This album is the the first must-hear of 2014.