Playradioplay!

Texas

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There are a number of reasons why Playradioplay!'s debut album, Texas, feels like peeking into a teenager's journal instead of listening to an album. Part of it has to do with the deeply personal lyrics that are both obscure and intimate, offering just enough detail to help listeners relate, but not enough to give them the whole story. But in this case, the fragile vulnerability on display isn't a stylistic choice, but genuine expression -- Daniel Hunter, the one-man show behind the project, was just 17 (and not yet out of high school) when he signed with Island Records. The lyrics and emotions on Texas lay his youthful angst and uncertainty out for display, but why fault a teenage artist for being, well, a teenage artist? Though their music is nothing alike, Hunter's situation calls to mind another young Daniel -- in this case, Silverchair's Daniel Johns -- in the sense that the album captures not only Hunter's current skill, but also his future potential. Like Silverchair's Frogstomp, Texas is not a perfect album, but it doesn't need to be. It's refreshing and exciting enough to listen to Hunter explore his sound, often with shimmering results. His voice is haunting and delicate, blending into the background of electronic beats, loops, and guitar only to come back to the forefront for the inevitably catchy refrain. The effect makes Texas an album that's suitable as both trendy club music and introspective listening. A case in point is "Madi Don't Leave," whose dance-ready chorus is framed by verses about the impending collapse of a relationship. Like the rest of the songs on the album, "Madi Don't Leave"'s light melody contrasts with darker lyrical content. It's a mix that usually hits, though not always. There are several places where the album falters ("My Attendance Is Bad But My Intentions Are Good" quickly devolves into repetition, while "Corner Office Bedroom" sounds like a pale rehash of a Coldplay outtake), but it's never enough to bring down Texas entirely. Hunter didn't need to seek perfection with his debut -- he did well enough in seeking himself.

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