Monday, June 18, 2012

Phao: Playing With Fire Review

phao playing with fire

The rock band Phao has been around since 2005, but it wasn’t until 2010 that they released their debut full-length project. After they watched a song they co-wrote to benefit Compassion Canada and Kaitlin’s Legacy debut at #1 on iTunes’ charts, Phao was encouraged and released the Something Cold EP, which featured four previews of their Playing With Fire sophomore project. That project is finally here, releasing June 19th.

Playing With Fire is primarily an album set to encourage those who have gone through broken relationships, or those who fail at sparking up a new relationship whenever they try. It does a very good job at that, and I’m sure that people in these situations will definitely relate to the frustration and discouragement that is addressed through such songs.

And, ironically, I believe that it’s mostly the songs that did not appear on the Something Cold EP that stick out the most. Of these, one of my favorites was the opening track, “Too Late,” which is a high-energy rock track that speaks of the reasons for a broken relationship. The title track, too, follows, having a Pillar rock sentiment to it. It speaks of strangled relationships as playing with fire. In both of these opening tracks, the chanting vocals added for emphasis during the bridge are a great addition, as is the lead guitar in the latter.

“Know Your Name” is featured on the Something Cold EP, and takes on more of a chaotic punk/rock sound. Overall, the track of seeing a girl and “just wanting to know her name” is somewhat of a fun track, though I think it is a big strange in parts, especially its opening lyrics that suggest love at first sight, whereas the girl is modest and refuses to get into a relationship this quickly. As I said, I think many will be able to relate to this feeling, but I didn’t totally appreciate this lustful sentiments in the song. On the same note, though definitely better lyrically, “Brought Me Back” asks what hindered an otherwise good relationship.

Not a relationship song for once (at least entirely), “Drag You Down” challenges the listener to not waste a moment of their life – “What are you gonna do with your life?” it asks before giving the alternative of being dragged to the bottom. The chanting lyrics here, lead singer’s higher and blaring vocals, and guitar blasts are incredible, and thus “Drag You Down” is definitely my favorite off the Playing With Fire album. Another great rock anthem, “Live to Fight” speaks of the uselessness of fighting your entire life, rather than enjoying your life, because if “we only live to fight, we’re gonna die someday.”

“Backbone” is an average, but nice rock track, while “Anything We Want” features Jodi King in a duet about a guy and a girl in a relationship. This was another lesser track, in my opinion, mainly because it wasn’t as upbeat and rocky as the rest of the tracks. “Worth It” is more of a ballad, with a nice and serene melody, stating “Baby, you’re worth it to me.”

“For You” features HelloKelly, and is a song of thanks to the fans for all the support they have received over the past years, speaking of their live shows and that “we came here for you.” I’m sure all traveling bands can relate to the struggles of the road that Phao presents in this track, as well as the fact that it’s worth it for their crazy fans. With a soft electronic drumbeat at first, “Faking Love” builds as it goes along, stating the ridiculousness of being a relationship where the love is faked, but then the album closes with “Something Cold,” also from the four-song EP by the same name. It’s upbeat musically but very depressing lyrically, again about broken relationships.

As with the Something Cold EP that Phao released earlier this year, I do wish that the band would focus on more than just broken relationships, as they did with “Drag You Down” and “Live to Fight” on this Playing With Fire album. However, at the same time, I have to say that it is obvious that Phao is definitely getting better as they go along. This is particularly evident through the opening tracks, not on the original EP. Phao’s blaring rock, chanting and emphatic vocals, and their otherwise passionate lyrics are definitely enjoyable!

Rating: 3.5/5
Release date: June 19, 2012

Track listing:
1. Too Late
2. Playing With Fire
3. Know Your Name
4. Brought Me Back
5. Drag You Down
6. Live to Fight
7. Backbone
8. Anything We Want (featuring Jodi King)
9. Worth It
10. For You (featuring HelloKelly)
11. Faking Love
12. Something Cold

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