Marcy Playground – MP3

2 out of 5

Label: Reality Entertainment

Produced by: John Wozniak

True, it’s not going to be a good review, but I actually do enjoy this album.

With their sophomore album Shapeshifter, Marcy Playground decided to step forth confidently into the light of pop rock, which resulted in some catchy, but effectively empty songs.  The album still flirted with the ghost of indie folk that made their debut an interesting synthesis of sounds, and lead singer John Wozniak – while flip-flopping his thematic childhood obsession from dusky memories into celebratory tomes – kept some tracks on their that maintained a little mystery and darkness.  So it was a bolder and brighter sound and a mixed bag.  What would happen next?

…Time and the fade of top 10 success seemed to diminish the need to be contemplative or particularly inventive, and so the grunge influence that MP rode into the spotlight and then embraced more fully on Shapeshifter practically takes over on MP3; riffs are straight Nirvana or Foo Fighters, and Wozniak’s humdrum delivery is zipped into bop-bops and shouts.  It’s actually refreshing at first, the group sort of barreling ahead frightfully with reinvigorated metaphors (Blood In Alphabet Soup a highlight) but on track 4 – Hotter Than the Sun – we hit an interesting twist when some cynical mentions of gold at the end of rainbows turns into an unveiled discussion of fame, and then the rest of the album is suddenly like, “okay, it’s out in the open now…” and there are no more metaphors but instead silly tracks about high school and the power of music and sappy songs about suicide and politics.  They sound great, like the band is happy to have hung around long enough to be free of expectations, and they’re pretty catchy, but man… they’re also pretty dumb.  And so in the spirit of being mindful of the group’s career leading up to this point, while its an average disc overall, it feels like a step down in terms of their catalogue.

And yes, the title was outdated already when the album was releases.