Review Summary: Anyone expecting a return to the style featured on What We Made will be disappointed, but Playing In The Shadows is way better than Won't Go Quietly, and is an album electronic fans should enjoy.
British rapper Example has made a huge change in his musical style since he started releasing singles back in 2006. His first album, What We Made, consisted of fairly straitforward hip hop production with outright hilarious lyrics. However, all that went out the window with his second release, Won't Go Quietly, which featured electro-tinged dance-pop with lyrics about love and relationships and such. Playing In The Shadows continues this style, but with harder, heavier electronic production from some of the best electronic producers out there. In short, Playing In The Shadows is Won't Go Quietly, but done way better.
Album opener Skies Don't Lie (Produced by Funkagenda) starts things off. The track starts with an atmospheric dubstep beat, accompanied by the worst singing you'll find on the album. However, once the song moves into house territory it gets a bit better, even if the lyrics are kinda so-so. The next two tracks, Stay Awake and Changed The Way You Kiss Me move the album in a better direction. They're more upbeat, and sound like they were made to be played in clubs. It should be no surprise that these are the two singles off the album. The production by Nero fits Example's vocal delivery perfectly, and the trance-influenced Changed The Way You Kissed Me is extremely catchy, features the best singing on the album and is my favorite off the album.
The rest of the album continues this trend, with upbeat, catchy club music featuring excellent production from Faithless, Chase & Status, Feed Me and Skream. The lyrics don't differ from what was featured on Won't Go Quietly. The lyrics are definitely one of the low points of the album, as the writing of failed relationships gets dull and left me hoping for something fresh. The production varies enough to offset this a bit, as the piano on Microphone (Brookes Brothers) and the acoustic guitar on Playing In The Shadows (Chase & Status) were a pleasant surprise halfway through the album.
This is hardly a perfect album though. As I've mentioned before, the lyrics and production get boring if you're listening to the entire album in one sitting. The singing on some songs isnt as good as it could be, and some of the songs are just mediocre. That being said, this album has some fantastic electronic tracks that are definitely worth listening to.