Modern Gameplay

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Sprites couldn't have picked a more appropriate title for their second full-length offering. The charming Modern Gameplay is full of quirky indie rock that sounds like the result of recording sessions that alternated between laying tracks down in one room and playing Space Invaders on an old Atari console in another -- and yeah, some of that time probably overlapped. Jason Korzen and crew beef up the instrumentation more than on Sprites' semi-acoustic 2003 album, but regardless, everything still sounds pretty stripped down. Korzen's dry talk-singing is unwavering -- he never exerts his voice more than what is necessary to utter words aloud -- surrounded by small doses of guitar, percussion, synths, and little computerized blips to bop each understated track merrily along. The songs are delightfully geeky in their subject matter, delivered as though Korzen was just thinking aloud instead of relaying previously written-down sentiments. Lyrics are clever and witty without him really trying to be much more than honest, from spending the end of the world in a mall avoiding zombies in "George Romero" to lamenting over time wasted on his computer in "I Started a Blog Nobody Read," to a fascination with cloning and Blade Runner on "The Most Dangerous Thing in the World." The record is an extremely light listen, demanding nothing more from listeners than to simply sit back and enjoy. Sprites are completely refreshing in their straightforward, unironic approach, and consequently, Modern Gameplay is one of the most likable records of 2006.

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