They're still somewhat inside a creative box, but are showing signs of self-emancipation...
Simon Butcher
12:35 6th April 2009

The Whitest Boy Alive is the interesting side project fronted by Ereland Øye, part of the duo Kings of Convenience. Initially formed as an electronic dance music project, their debut Dreams was an ethereal base driven effort fusing minimal drum beats with atmospheric guitar hooks, but surprisingly no programmed elements. Dreams was a soothing taste of tranquillity, with Øye’s vocals complimenting the spacious texture of the record expertly.  People often describe themselves as being lost in tranquillity as a sign of complete relaxation, but this expression can work both ways - the album was unfortunately lost on many people, as a monotonous and ultimately melancholic work. The concepts conjured up while creating Dreams may well have not lived up to the reality hoped for by Øye.    

Rules advances on the blueprint of the last album by revisiting the initial electronic idea responsible for the group’s conception. Daniel Nentwig is given a more prominent role richly colouring the record with his keys and synthesised melodies. Opener Keep A Secret blends a strong funky baseline with an inventive mixture of Jazz drumming and a subtle electro tinge. Second track Intentions impressively illustrates the imaginative leaps made since Dreams, using a multitude of keys with confidence to create a relaxing reggae influenced achievement.

Where confidence still seems to lack is within Øye’s lyrical content, covering old ground about loving and loosing previously chartered. Øye’s poor lyrics all too often accentuated by a one word chorus relentlessly repeated are unimaginative. Hesingle-handedly ruins Timebomb by incessantly repeating its title over what could otherwise have been an interesting beat. Gravity is the only exception to the rule of lyrical drudgery, a tale involving a love triangle between two friends. Rollercoaster Ride is an ironically low tempo dull endeavour which plods along without any indelible impact, while Dead End also leads into a cul-de-sac of musical ideas.

If Dreams had the ideas and imagination, Rules has the structure and innovation to bring the creative process together. 1517, sounding like a stripped back version of Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger emphasizes just how close the group came to their original dance roots. Standout track Courage is a perfect blend of melodious guitar hooks and deep house synth build-ups, sounding similar in style to Royksopp, likewise the epic final track Island is jaunty number being fuelled by an industrial electronic hook. Rules and music do not always coexist peacefully. Too many rules can lead to a lack of creativity, placing the artist firmly inside a box and therefore leading to a lack of spontaneity. The Whitest Boy Alive are still somewhat inside a creative box, but are showing signs of self-emancipation.