The Whitest Boy Alive Rules Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

An assured and beguiling album that deserves to push TWBA on to bigger audiences.

Lou Thomas 2009

White Lies and Maximo Park already claim to be making music that echoes these globally uncertain times.

Unfortunately for them, neither English indie band reckoned on a Norwegian folk/electronica stalwart encapsulating the prevailing socio-economic feeling in one simple lyric.

Deep into Rules, Erlend Øye's second album under his The Whitest Boy Alive moniker, comes Gravity, and the line, ''How long can a cool cat keep his calm, despite the mounting evidence that there's cause for alarm?''.

It's a weak track aside from this moment of clarity, but is a great indication of what makes Øye a savvy songwriter. He has little time for flab.

Across Rules' eleven tracks there are duff moments, particularly Rollercoaster Ride, which is something of a misnomer considering its flatness.

But what impresses almost everywhere else, much like it did on TWBA's 2006 album Dreams, is the lack of procrastination and excess.

1517 and Courage are both streamlined and funky, all Fender Rhodes and fruity guitar licks. It helps that both come on like contemporary versions of The Isley Brothers' That Lady, Pt. 1 & 2. High On The Heels is another ace, slimline ditty. It's full of cheap, nasty synth noises but retains an efficient Scandinavian feel and would make a neat soundtrack to Calvin Harris ram-raiding Ikea.

Elsewhere, Intentions is a quieter moment that combines classic Stevie Wonder riffs with a playful sound familiar to fans of Air's Moon Safari LP. Reassuringly, it includes another example of lyrically astuteness as Øye croons, "You only want someone when that someone's gone".

Naysayers will complain the funk here is diluted, a million miles from the grit of Prince or Parliament. Some complained similarly about Dreams. What can't be ignored, though is the tenderness and subtlety of an assured and beguiling album that deserves to push TWBA on to bigger audiences and record sales.

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