Lately it seems that there’s much debate about the alleged death of rock music. Surely it isn’t the social/cultural force it once was, but as long as we have new young groups such as RPWL releasing quality music, I really don’t care. Trying to Kiss the Sun is the band’s sophomore CD and it is comforting to know that an American label had the guts to sign a German group to their roster. Back in the glory days of progressive rock, American labels such as EMI and Elektra released records by German bands Eloy and Birth Control and I’m glad to see this still happening in the 21st century.
RPWL are reminiscent of latter day Pink Floyd and Radiohead. In fact, you might think of Trying to Kiss the Sun as a meeting point between The Division Bell and OK Computer. At just over an hour and with ten tracks on hand, RPWL very skillfully alternates traditional progressive rock pieces with modern “alternative” rock songs. Take for example "Waiting for a Smile". At seven minutes, it is a gentle ode to a failed relationship and the song builds to a lovely instrumental climax that never becomes overtly flashy. The next song, "I Don’t Know (What It’s Like)", on the other hand wouldn’t sound out of place on a Coldplay CD. It’s very much an accessible and radio friendly song (yes, that’s meant as a complement!). In fact, nearly half the CD wouldn’t be out of place on a college alternative radio station. My favorite of the shorter songs is "Sunday Morning", an absolutely gorgeous meditation about the insecurities and apprehension of entering a new relationship. It reminds me of classic ELO for some reason. The final track, "Home Again", at nearly nine minutes is the longest cut of the CD. This is another song about a failed romance (as is the theme of most of the CD) and after the song proper ends, there’s a great David Gilmour-like guitar solo somewhat akin to "On the Turning Away".
This five-piece band has a great future ahead of them. One might argue that the longer songs aren’t complex enough, but the quality of the songs themselves is so high that no lengthy soloing is necessary. It’s nice to see a progressive band focusing on themes of love and sadness instead of getting lost in cosmic musings. The live photos in the CD booklet suggest that these guys would put on a great concert. Great stuff!