On his new EP, Extra Playful, John Cale’s doing what he does best, which is toying with pop-rock sounds and structures. These five songs aren’t actually pop songs, but they could be if Cale allowed it. Even so, Cale doesn’t undercut them enough to really make a statement, and that’s not the point. There’s a bit of a toss-off feel here, especially with the relatively funny “Hey Ray”, and the disc serves as a fine break from more serious work. That said, it’s not that Cale’s turned giddy, “Whaddya Mean By That” provides a guitar solo alone that suggests the dismantling going on here. Nothing’s quite as straightforward as it might seem, even in a catchy chorus, and Cale explores that concept, too. He doesn’t push it far enough to be useful, so the EP ends up being not quite as playful as its title suggests, but it’s not especially noteworthy either.
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