PlayRadioPlay! is one of those ridiculously endearing success stories that makes you want to like the “band” (it's just one guy) before you even hear the music. Texas teenager Daniel Hunter hit it big as a Myspace star after posting some tunes under the moniker PlayRadioPlay!, which attracted enough attention to earn him a signature to Stolen Transmission and a stint with this summer's Warped Tour. His first release, The Frequency EP [Stolen Transmission], is making waves in the music press, and he's currently teaming up with a hotshot producer to record a full length debut for 2008.
So if you know anything about PlayRadioPlay!, you'll listen to The Frequency EP with high expectations, tempered with the knowledge of the album's humble origins. It doesn't quite live up to Hunter's newfound reputation as an indie-pop prodigy, but honestly, nothing could. The musical style is fairly obvious in its origins – relaxed but strangely uptempo electronic tunes that fall straight between the dance-rock of Hellogoodbye and the chillout beats of The Postal Service. Fans of either band will find a lot to like about PlayRadioPlay!, but will also discover that, not surprisingly, Hunter has a way to go as a songwriter.
The songs are solid, though their consistency borders on repetition. An easy high point is the opener, “Bad Cops Bad Charities”, where Hunter builds isolation and social commentary into a synth-heavy dance beat. The rest of the songs show promise, but aren't quite “there” yet – Hunter's melodies and arrangements have room to improve, though he deserves congratulations on his slick solo production and his lyrics, which take on complex issues like drug addiction and the cultural effect of mass media. Also, the cover of the Killers' “Mr. Brightside” that ends the EP is highly impressive – Hunter's version is slow and features round style choruses – the song is a definite standout on the disc.
Overall, PlayRadioPlay! is an act with lots of promise, and while Daniel Hunter may not match up to his musical idols as a songwriter yet, it's not hard to imagine him getting there, and soon. If Frequency is what he can do by himself, one wonders what Hunter may be capable of with the help of a producer and possibly a full band. Free advice: don't take your eyes off PlayRadioPlay! This time next year, they may well be blindsiding the mainstream.