By the Great Sun Jester

Having reviewed RPWL's last album, Beyond Man and Time, I had some ideas about what to expect with their new album, Wanted. The band's time as a Pink Floyd tribute act has honed their natural songwriting inclinations for pomp and grandeur to a fine edge, but their derivative attempts to approximate a host of progressive rock clichés and the lingering influence of the legendary English prog rockers, ultimately, hung like an albatross over the band's music. The redeeming grace of the last album is that, influences on their sleeves or not, you could hear them thrashing against that strait jacket. I wondered if they'd make it out.

 The new album provides resounding proof that they have. The appropriately titled opening track, "Revelations", jolted me with surprise on first listen. This dense instrumental has a harsh, dissonant quality reminiscent of King Crimson and a strong sense of structure that holds the listener's attention.

 The album's title song is a compelling mix of New Wave pop sensibilities and progressive rock dynamics. The rhythm section performs particularly strong here and the steady, driving tempo they establish is key to the song's success from the outset. However, the grandiose wash of keyboards, jangling guitars, and the understated code are equally interesting. The band's layered approach practically demands multiple listens to appreciate its artistry.

"Hide And Seek" is the album's creative highpoint, an unique multi-part melding of Deep Purple-esque organ driven rock, folk music, and progressive flourishes. The vocal, unfortunately, resembles David Gilmour so much that it is a little distracting, but is material far removed from Pink Floyd's territory. Instead, this song provides the strongest evidence yet that rather than finding themselves locked within perpetual homage to their musical heroes, RPWL have learned how to synthesize a wide variety of influences with their own personalities to create a truly unique musical entity.

 "Disbelief" has a darker, grittier side than most of the band's material, almost bluesy, and this sonic quality alone sits it apart from the surrounding material.

 "Perfect Day" brings to mind mid to late 1980's Jethro Tull with its jumpy flute playing and bright, busy guitar work. The vibrant production transforms it into a muscular, but light-footed, modern rock track with another outstanding performance from the band's rhythm section.

Clocking in at ten plus minutes, "The Attack" is another song where a darker, foreboding side to the band leaps out to the fore. The spare, ominous arrangement leaves many opportunities for the music to breathe and creates a tangible atmosphere of dread.

The album's finale, "A New Dawn", finds RPWL reining in the soundscapes, symphonic touches, and towering guitar solos in favor of an intimate and largely acoustic closer. This is a beautifully earned ending as it resolves the album as a cohesive work in particularly artful fashion.