steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


Self-titled CD

drb Records

Genre: rock

Portland, OR

Nov 12, 2008

Although much effort seems to be going into promoting this disc, it is surprisingly unspectacular. Portland's Play> is a competent band, but all they really do is play rock music. Very straightforwardly. As a result, this whole album is a mixed bag.

The better songs on this debut are melodic, energetic, and more or less fun. Radio-ready "Your Lie" is a good example - a sticky, low-key pop song, it isn't spectacular but its verses are remarkably catchy. This is the type of guitar-oriented rock/pop that dominated variety stations in the nineties. Opener "Today" also has its share of effective hooks, while "Outta the Rain" is conceptually successful but has been pulled off miserably.

One problem I have with this disc is the nature of frontman Tris Lass' vocals. He has a vaguely goofy, swooping voice that lacks the necessary power for Play>'s more fiery songs ("Window," "Life X"); meanwhile, he also sounds silly in a slow-song context ("Conflicted," appallingly long "Moment"). In fact, the brief instrumental interludes tend to be more pleasant than the rest of this disc.

But Lass' voice isn't the only problem here. These songs lack originality, and a lot of them aren't sufficiently polished or compositionally taut. As a rock album, Play> is good enough to be consumed passively, but there is little here that will grab the listener and keep him or her coming back.

Play>'s myspace


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 14 tracks, distributed by the band, released Nov 18, 2008]