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Album Review

The Whitest Boy Alive no doubt intend their moniker facetiously, if not a bit self-mockingly, but it's a useful cue in pinpointing their music, which does in fact display many qualities frequently associated with whiteness. Fortunately, unfunkiness is not primary among them. Splitting the unlikely but not insurmountable distance between the hushed acoustic folk-pop of Kings of Convenience, Erlend Øye's previous main concern, and the stylish electronic dance-pop of his solo work, TWBA set their sights on gently grooving indie rock/pop, achieved through essentially non-electronic means (guitar, bass, drums, and the occasional electric piano.) Their grooves may not be particularly soulful, but they're toe-tapping enough, and very smartly performed, with an interlocking crispness that recalls Phoenix or perhaps a much less twitchy version of early Talking Heads. That smoothness and precision — in rhythmic execution, instrumental tone, lyrical diction, and overall sound — is, for better or worse, Dreams' most notable feature. Call it sonic purity and aesthetic clarity, or call it smarmy slickness and stuffy sterility; it's a pretty white sound either way you take it. But however polite or uptight it may be, pop music floats or fails on the strength of the songs, which in this case are frustratingly hit or miss. There are a handful of winners here — the peppy kick-off "Burning," the jumpy quasi-dance-punk of "Fireworks,"the brooding "Done with You" and the sweet, hesitantly self-affirming "Don't Give Up" — and they are gleaming. Too much of the remainder of the album, though, lags in too-similar, blandly vanilla territory; less white hot than white bread. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 2003 in Berlin, Germany

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in 2003 as an electronics-based group with an emphasis on the dancefloor, the Whitest Boy Alive eventually abandoned all programming and most other forms of synthetic instrumentation for a typical rock band setup. Guitarist/vocalist Erlend Øye (the Kings of Convenience), bassist Marcin Öz, drummer Sebastian Maschat, and keyboardist Daniel Nentwig began playing a form of straightforward and stripped-down indie rock informed by early Talking Heads (particularly the spindly sound...
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Dreams, The Whitest Boy Alive
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