If you listen to mainstream radio, you’ve heard songs exactly like this.
Trevor Dahl has been recording under the moniker Plug in Stereo for the past six years or so, ever since he was a teenager, but he has announced that this self-titled album will be his last, at least under this name. It seems that Dahl has been bummed out about label pressure to deliver a hit, and has decided to try his hand at a new style of music and move on. (There’s a song titled on this release “Burn Out”, and if that’s any indication, well ... .) In that sense, Plug in Stereo is a summation. Some of the songs were written this year, but some are as old as four years ago. So, Dahl is closing a chapter on his professional life with a personal and confessional batch of songs. It’s strange that Dahl felt that he had to bow to commerciality, for Plug in Stereo is about as pure pop as it comes, with lovey dovey songs about puppy love and such. No wonder then that this album was streamed on Teen Vogue’s website on the week that it was unveiled. However, that’s not to necessarily dismiss this as teeny bopper music, but this is a brand of folksy pop that wouldn’t be out of place on radio’s Top 40 playlist.
Thus, how much you end up liking Plug in Stereo depends on how much you like bright and sunshiny songs. Truth be told, some of this is a bit on the cloying side, the kind of stuff that will give your teeth cavities if you listen to it for too long. That’s something of a failing as Plug in Stereo doesn’t really have a distinct sound. If you listen to mainstream radio, you’ve heard songs exactly like this. Still, Plug in Stereo is a vastly pleasurable listen in a purely disposable manner. There’s stuff that is insanely catchy, such as the jazzy “Love Is a Word” and the final track “Give It Up” (another clue that Dahl wants to close this project down?) does linger with the listener, as it is a pretty acoustic mid-tempo ballad. So say what you will about Dahl’s songsmithery for being a carbon copy, he does have chops and a deft manner with a song. Here’s hoping that Dahl finds some peace of mind and has a great deal of fun with his next project, whatever that might be or what form that may take.