Brad’s more casual fans might be tempted to give Play a pass, and it is the sort of album that might get tagged as a self-indulgent side project: a set of mostly instrumental songs that allow Brad to crank up the guitar pyrotechnics without worrying about crafting another lyric as clever as “Ticks” or “Online.” But make no mistake, Play is just as indispensable as any album Brad has recorded to date—not to mention one of his best. The staggering virtuosity will enthrall hard-core guitar geeks, but the sharp melodies and constantly shifting musical terrain keep things just as engaging for everyone else.


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