Its impossible to think of Zach Rogue without Rogue Wave. He changed his last name from Schwartz to Rogue for Pete’s sake; and Rogue Waves debut, Out of the Shadow, was essentially Rogue himself. Its no surprise, then, that Come Back to Us, the debut of Rogues year-old solo moniker Release the Sunbird, is a departure but also a return to form. Disillusioned after touring with the rest of the band, Rogue escaped to a friends recording studio in Bloomington, where he recorded Come Back to Us. The album bears Rogues signature yet versatile voice and simplistic guitar-driven arrangements that recall his eponymous bands first album with the occasional grand gestures of Rogue Waves later work.
Rogues secret weapon is female vocalist Kate Long, who sings on most of the albums tracks. The two ebulliently harmonize on Running Away From Me and Paper Allies, and their hypnotic canon on Everytime You Go evokes the sadness of a couple splitting up. When Rogue sings by himself, softly backed by the delicate guitars on Always Like the Son and A New You, he channels 70’s British folk artists like Nick Drake. It sounds more natural to him than on Back Strikes Back, when his tenor hews closer to Ben Gibbards and the song itself could be a B-side on Descended Like Vultures. Bittersweet Well Begin Tomorrow almost fails to rise above the standard minor chord-driven emotive fare, but the quickening rhythm and intermittent growling guitar licks save it.
The albums beginning and end tracks recall Rogues departure from Rogue Wave and hint at a probable return after his stint as Release the Sunbird. Its All Around You sounds like a B-side from the full band, with its slow build and tremendous organs. Similarly, closer Outlooks Anonymous showcases familiar keyboard sounds and sluggish rhythm, along with a chilling round between Long and Rogue that brings the album full circle.