Friday, December 2, 2011

John Cale - Extra Playful

John Cale entered into the new decade on the high of two critically acclaimed records, Black Acetate and Hobosapiens, that saw him giving a nod to his poppier guitar based rock instincts, and blending them with some delightfully experimental use of electronics and synthesizer.  As such, it should come as no surprise that 2011 finds Cale continuing on the same path, to similarly great success.

Compared to the records mentioned above, Cale's latest, Extra Playful, is perhaps the most accessible of all.  Where the others ebbed and flowed between poppy goodness and difficult sonics, Extra Playful is straight ahead pop, through and through. The instrumentation is Cale at his most accessible, firmly rooted in guitars and playful pianos. When electronics are brought into the mix, it's only to provide modest backing beats or synth textures.

Which isn't to say that the record is without depth.  The strong moments are some of the best songwriting of his career, and calls to mind his creative heyday of the mid seventies. There are weaker points (we could do without the backup singers on "Hey Ray", for one), but overall the EP holds together remarkably well as a straight forward rock and roll record.

Extra Playful is apparently the precursor to another full length from Cale in 2012, and that's great news.  His output as of late has been nothing if not a consistently rewarding treat.  For now, we'll be giving this record more than a few spins, and eagerly awaiting the delivery of the next chapter.

mp3: John Cale - Perfection


Anonymous said...

I think Hey Ray without the backup singers would sound a little bit too spare and far less playful. It was my favorite song on the EP until I got the Black Friday edition and with it The Hanging. Fantastic trumpet on it, and the lyrics are really good. Whaddya Mean By That is very catchy, once you go past the opening lines "teach me how to love, etc." which I thought was very weak lyrically. But the chorus is excellent. Overall an excellent EP, can't wait for the album.