As unpredictable as he can be, there is no denying that Kevin Max is a music-making dynamo. Because of the eccentric nature of his work, it often goes unappreciated, especially compared to his companions TobyMac and Michael Tait. Playing Games With The Shadow finds the talented singer further pulling away from the Christian music industry with a beautiful amalgamation of retro, cryptic, and groovy tones that only get more mysterious and mesmerizing with every listen. With an ear toward such 80’s groups as Duran Duran, The Cure, and Talk, Talk, the music is a terrific mix of good ol’ 80’s synth soundscapes and serrated, cutting guitar tones. One theme that seems to come up relatively often is sexual sin, which is most noticeably talked about in “Girl With The Tiger Eyes,” “Circus The Night (Human Zoo)” and “Skin Of Our Teeth.” Kevin Max is unafraid to speak his mind, but he does so with a lot of artistic skill, to the point where the exact meanings of these songs are somewhat elusive. The same goes for his political commentary on “Election.” Though there are a lot of high points on this album, it is not perfect. The inclusion of the previously released track “Panic Button”–which feels like a black sheep here–and the short tracklist make this album feel a bit rushed–but they are easily overlooked given the infectiously catchy and artistic nature of these tunes. Playing Games With The Shadow is a remarkably intriguing release and proves that Kevin Max still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.