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Sam Lachow’s confessional five-song Play/Pretend contains a disclaimer: “To my fans, I gotta warn you, this record is kinda dark.” I’m tempted to call this EP, “Sam’s hangover record,” as though he’s emerged from heavy slumber to coffee and considered contemplation of the fun fratboy party of his excellent earlier releases. Here on this record is something undeniably new: The first sound you hear is the angelic chorus of Maggie Lou May, whose voice is featured on every track, both sung and sampled and used to make melody. Her voice is a revelation and is but one of many new textures—alongside dialogue samples—that leaves this record feeling so fresh. This is not like the Sam Lachow records you’ve heard before. You need only consider exhibit B, on “Secret to Happiness,” where Sam’s voice is detuned through most of the song, to the point of being unrecognizable. This project is a portrait of a man wrestling with demons, staring deeply at funhouse reflections, stretching his skin. On “Worth Your Time,” a gripping, spiraling centerpiece, Lachow acknowledges that “Macklemore inspired me to admit my addictions,” while also questioning whether that matters, and then the next song, semi-answers, “I’m foolish, I’m fine. I’m chasing my high, and wasting my time.” This too-short EP is intended to tide us over until a full-length in 2018. Yes, more of this please.

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