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Album Review

Erlend Øye was responsible for a couple of the more quietly influential releases of the early 2000s — the Kings of Convenience's wispily gentle, prophetically titled debut Quiet Is the New Loud and his affable, microhouse-popularizing DJ-Kicks set, not to mention his fine vocal contributions to Röyksopp's early singles — all thoroughly excellent if hardly earth-shattering work. In the latter part of the decade, though, his output and impact seemed sadly diminished as he lapsed into a middling, milquetoast groove as frontman for the smooth pop outfit the Whitest Boy Alive. The group's second outing is, like everything Øye touches, never less than pleasant, poppy, and unfailingly polite. And his Berlin-based bandmates know their way around a nimble lite-funk strut as well as anyone (Maroon 5 come to mind, as do Phoenix in their more straightforward moments). Newly official member Daniel Nentwig, in particular, offers some tastily chunky electric piano tidbits; his presence on every track (as opposed to only two) helps make this a fuller-sounding affair than the band's debut, as well as somewhat more kinetic. And Øye's croon is as golden as ever, gliding through his earnestly considered reflections on ill-fated relationships. But sound is one thing and spirit another, and the album feels, on the whole, more tired than inspired. A handful of marginal highs aside (the minor urgency of "Courage," the fluid sobriety of "Gravity"), it's hard to shake the feeling that Rules would be a lot more satisfying if it broke a few more. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi


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 of Talking...
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Rules, The Whitest Boy Alive
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