For all intents and purposes, the first album from Rogue Wave (Out Of The Shadow) was a solo effort from lead man Zach Rogue that was later filled-in a bit with the help of some musician friends. At first, the group released the CDs on their own, and then like some sort of indie-band dream come true, they found the album re-remastered and re-released by Sub Pop, and the group went on tour in support of it. Enjoying a fair amount of chemistry together, they started writing tracks for a new release together.
Part of the charm of that first album was a sort of rough-hewn and even a bit scattered quality that no doubt came from the fact that one person played a large part in writing most of the songs. Descended Like Vultures then, is just about the complete opposite in most ways, with most songs bursting forth in polished in precise ways. These power pop (even rock, dare I say) tracks are offset a few quieter, understated moments where Rogue croons over more stripped-down instrumentation. "Bird On A Wire" opens the release with aforementioned bombast, and it's obvious that it's going to be an altogether different album than the quirky first release as waltzing verses sway with nervous, noisy punctuations and power ballad choruses.
"Publish My Love" is another sweeping track that utilizes multiple layers of guitar and an almost shiny production quality, and the louder moments stick out even more because of it. Basically, Descended Like Vultures sounds like the album you might imagine from the group in the first place if they'd had more of a production budget and decided to rock out more. On both "Love's Lost Guarantee" and "10:1" (and several other tracks really), one can hear the great melodies that the group pulled off on their first album magnified. The clever lyrics of Rogue are still there, there's just a lot more going on at the same time.
There are a few places on the album where the full band and more lush sound leads things to sound a smidge more rote than on the debut, but despite the new production opportunities, the group doesn't go too overboard and even mixes in a couple more simple tracks for good measure (like the warm, acoustic "California" and subtle synths and guitars of "Salesman At The Day Of The Parade"). One could argue that it sounds like a different group on this release, and technically it is. Still, if you like the last album from Rogue Wave, I can't imagine you going wrong with this one.