LABEL: The Control Group
On their self-titled sophomore album, the Norwegian pop group I Was A King effortlessly impress you with the musical references on its 15 concise, breezy tunes- Beatles, Raspberries, XTC, Teenage Fanclub, Flamin’ Groovies, Fountain of Wayne and on. But at a certain point, you start to realize that most of these songs don’t stand out from their overflowing fountain of references because vocalist Frode Stromstad’s harmony-cushioned vocals are too bland. There are a few exceptions-“Golden Years” and “California” have some garage-y bite; “It’s All You” lets its sweeping melody emerge from a powerfully spiky piano intro. But otherwise, you’re listening to the band’s tastes more than it’s music.