Play Around the Christmas Tree

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This seasonal tchotchke from bubbly Swedish teen poppers Play finds the quartet harmonizing through ten Christmas standards. As it was with 2004's Don't Stop the Music, it can be difficult to tell the voices of Anais, Anna, Rosie, and Janet apart. But that's not really a problem, as their Christina and Mariah-styled vocals fit the mild R&B arrangements of tracks like "Christmas Song" and "O Holy Night" quite comfortably. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" emulates Brenda Lee's definitive version, and "All I Want for Christmas Is You"'s bopping bassline and sweet supporting harmonies recall classic Motown. Play Around the Christmas Tree doesn't have a lot of vitality in its instrumentation -- the tracks are synthesizer slick, right down to the push-button sleigh bell effects. But there's plenty of warmth in Play's vocals, making this brief holiday offering (it clocks in at under half an hour) a nice gift to the group's fans.

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