When Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience reared its head at the dawn of the 21st century, lending a genre-defining classic to the Quiet is the New Loud sound, it might've been difficult to see geeky co-founder Erlend í˜ye as savior of electronic dance music. Now, after í˜ye's brilliant solo electro album, Unrest; his equally lauded mix CD in the DJ Kicks series; and contributions to everyone from Kaos to Safety Scissors, it's just as difficult to see him as savior of energetic, indie guitar pop.
Yet the new album by The Whitest Boy Alive finds í˜ye trying out democratic band living ... "truly a band, not ... just í˜ye's new album," insists the press release. It's also a stab at DIY autonomy: The Bubbles label is a self-sufficient, band-run biz. As í˜ye sings on "Fireworks," "Patience is just another word for getting old."
Dreams will surprise few fans of DJ í˜ye or Kings of Convenience. There's the New Order-style guitar-and-bass dance sounds; the melancholy, augmented Rhodes piano chords; í˜ye's velvety, Spanish-fly-of-twee-pop vocals. And the dance-music influence was bound to come through, with enough repetitive beats and relentless kick drum on tracks like "Inflation" to please the dance floor.
But overall, The Whitest Boy Alive provides a new sound, one somewhere between the twee gold of Postcard Records-era Scottish pop (and descendents Belle and Sebastian) and modern Euro-dance rock bands such as Phoenix or The Go! Team. By turns sleepy and haunting, kinetic and rocking, Dreams is one to keep in mind for your geeky fanboy "Best of 2006" lists.