A hard-edged, no nonsense sound defines Play Center’s powerful “Tragic & Misunderstood”. They cut right to the bone featuring a no-frills approach. With an outsized style they tap into a visceral sense of urgency. Shouted vocals further emphasize this feeling for they are delivered in a commanding way. Drums rush through while the rest of the band locks into place with precision. Volume deserves to be blasted for this physical sound must be felt as well as heard. Everything about it becomes truly all-consuming as they utilize a select series of tactics to maximum effect.
Distortion reigns supreme over much of the album. By choosing such a direct intimate sound they at times touch upon the power-trio aesthetics of Shellac. Akin to that group they make sure every single note counts, for it is virtually bludgeoned into the listener’s skull with the help of those insistent riffs. Vocals have a forthrightness that recalls Thurston Moore’s early work with Sonic Youth. Like that early style, Play Center lets those lyrics possess a tremendous amount of insight. A wide range of subject matter at times gives the lyrics a unique stream of consciousness spirit that feels so real.
Not a moment is wasted for they begin the album with the chugging fury of “2020” that feels akin to a long-lost Chrome track. The disoriented experience of “The Game” plays with listener expectations, with a gorgeous groove that settles almost immediately after a short sample. Easily the highlight of the album the title track “Tragic and Misunderstood” lets things sprawl a bit. Hypnotic with its krautrock-informed tempo there is something so classic about the execution, harking back to earlier rock n’ roll greats. Playful to its very core “Space Travel” goes for a weirder take, with lyrics that incorporate the surreal poetry of the Meat Puppets. The slow burn of “Her Knew Her New” features the aggression of Scratch Acid’s brutal storytelling. Working itself into an absolute frenzy is the unhinged “Sabotage”.
Gigantic riffs lead the way over the insistent “To The Beat”. Short yet punchy, “Universal Whim” employs some incredible group interplay. Coldwave aesthetics lead the way over the sprawling ambition of “Dark Abyss – Interlude”. Here they go for a colder, darker tenor that expands akin to a weird trippy nightmare. Perfectly concluding the album is the swinging structure of “Every Now and Then” where they let loose.
“Tragic & Misunderstood” shows off the undeniable chops of Play Center in delivering something that absolutely teems with life.