Moonstar 88

Press to Play

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Moonstar 88 has gotten better. Where many songs on the band's debut album, 2001's Popcorn, were cluttered by abrupt changes of direction and unfinished musical ideas, Press to Play is more tight and focused. In addition, the singing of female lead singer Acel Bisa has improved, and she has more depth. The result of all this is a fine, cohesive album. Press to Play comes across as a rock album, but much of this is due to the gritty, reverb-drenched arrangements. Underneath the grit, most songs are light pop or folkish. On this album, the guitar work is as important as the singing. The opening, "Sabi Mo" (You Said), is heralded by a mesmerizing, reverb-drenched guitar figure, which leads to a slow, sensitive melody about love promised and betrayed. Searing guitar fills are heard throughout, adding intensity and passion. The pace quickens toward the song's end, and the singing and guitar move in intense synergy. "Sayang" (Wasted) is a rollicking power pop tune, and is the album's most rock-type song. It is a strong performance, and once again starts on a powerful chord progression. The chorus, which repeats the word "sayang," is instantly memorable. Moonstar 88 keeps things interesting. "Lonely" is a whimsical tune spiced with Beatles-like horns, while "Tongue Tied" sounds like a bossa nova at first, but the chorus reveals a boisterous power pop tune. "Sana" (Hoping) is a quiet acoustic outing, minus any electric guitar. The electric guitar heard throughout the album injects a decisive rock edge, though many of the songs would also sound good if played in an acoustic manner. Moonstar 88 should be commended for the growth and maturity shown on Press to Play.