By: Derek Spencer
Borrowing compositional and tonal elements from the late aughts’ surge of proggy pop punk and poppy post-hardcore, The Watcher EP whisks it’s more complex elements underneath a rug of guilt-ridden vocals, only slightly overwrought and overproduced. Houston-based 5-piece Rogues Among Us leans on easily anticipated depictions of violence to evoke and an orchestra of sheened guitar tones to titillate, rendering itself a disintegrate-upon-listening sort of release, save for listeners who may have missed this trend the first time around.
Taking their own work only as serious as this genre has always encouraged but never truly permitted, Rogues Among Us declares: “‘The Watcher’ is a tale of human consciousness and recognition of ones [sic] own deeds. Through a whirlwind of aggressive rhythms and a battle between dissonance and melody, a picture is painted of what man is, and what we must bear witness to. For, we are the watchers.” While melodrama and exaggerated importance have traditionally paired well with pop, this description rings firmly false given any cursory attention paid to the lyrics. The Watcher falls short of accessing the universal nature of man, settling instead for a song demonstrating deep-seeded catholic guilt, a song that’s lost in its own wolf–sheep metaphor, and a song that can only be described as an emo take on the quintessential drug-dealing hip-hop track.
Well-executed chromatic guitar licks, tight rhythm section foundations, and utter commitment to the pathos of Serious Angst salvage the album on a less conceptual, more practical plane of reference. At just under 15 minutes, The Watcher is highly listenable, even if it falls short of it’s goals in terms of novelty and thematic loft.