Album: Play
Artist: Moby
Label: Mute Records Limited
Year: 1999
Rating: 5/5
Summary: A variety of emotionally charged pop songs.

After releasing several unsuccessful albums, Moby finally had a hit on his hands with Play. It's pretty formulaic, and he went on to copy Play's style in his later albums, but considering how long it took him to work out successful formulas in the first place, you can hardly blame him. These days it's easy to forget that Play was popular for a reason: it's very good.

For the most part, Moby used the same technique as Fatboy Slim to create Play: he sampled some very old songs, then built a modern sound around the old vocals, wrapping them inside catchy rhythms, basslines and riffs. Despite the similarity of their main formulas, however, the two musicians have distinctive styles that complement each other from a comfortable distance. Compared to Fatboy Slim's hit album from the previous year, You've Come a Long Way, Baby, Play is restrained and calm.

As you might hope from a musician with such a varied past, Moby contributes several different genres of music to Play: Porcelain, for example, is a sentimental love song filled with a dreamy piano; Everloving is a beautiful and emotionally rich instrumental piece built around some acoustic guitar plucking; and Natural Blues is a hook fuelled pop song. Despite this variety, Moby has managed to give Play a cohesive feel. Each cut has a clean sound, and most are either catchy or emotionally charged, if not both.

Play isn't art. It's entertainment. It doesn't offer much in the way of originality, and none of the songs will make you think. On the other hand, it uses simple formulas to good effect, and it will more than likely make you feel a variety of emotions. If you want to listen to complex music, you'd best look elsewhere, but if you want to unwind or lift your spirits, this album may just do the trick. It offers something for pretty much everyone.