He’s a record label owner, DJ, producer and composer/singer for Kings of Convenience, The Whitest Boy Alive and as a solo act – but Legao is his first full-lengther as solo act in over a decade. It instantly sounds like a subdued summer-croon version of the Whitest Boy material; cod-reggae reduced to generic summer-waft – that’s the staple ingredient on opener Fence Me In. And it’s horrible. It returns for Say Goodbye and from there across the album. Smearing itself. An aural taint.
The tracks that feature elements of that sound without the tedium of soft phoned-in reggae vamps – such as lead single Garota – are the standouts. But calling them standouts suggests that they stand up. This is lazy wine-swilling music for beach bums; a holiday soundtrack for when you’ve checked out and want to relax with something easy-going, something familiar. The familiar aspect is that calm and soothing voice – Erlend Oye won’t let you down there.
But the soft Caribbean-styled musical framing starts to feel a bit like tacky furniture, a trim that doesn’t quite fit, creates a spoiler effect.
The band is Hjalmar, an Icelandic roots/reggae combo (?!) and I think they ruin this album.
Other listeners might think they make it.
I prefer the songs on here that don’t have any real trace of fake reggae – Bad Guy Now sounds almost like something James Taylor might cook up, Who Do You Report To is piano-driven and could mingle with the material Paul Buchanan dreamed up the other year were it not for the purloining of a melody from Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown – in the end, incongruous though it might seem, it’s a dreadful lift. (I still kinda like the song though).
Someone else will tell you that this is slick and smooth and soulful and a new type of country crooning even (Save Some Loving) but it feels like a yacht-load of coasting. Right up until the gorgeous closing track, Lies Become Part of Who You Are. Oh for a whole album in this vein.
Maybe in another ten years, eh…