Handsome Boy Modeling School

White People

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Five years after their rightfully revered debut, So...How's Your Girl?, brainiac producers Prince Paul and Dan the Automator return with Handsome Boy Modeling School's a-little-too-smug sophomore release, White People. Like the title, a good third of the album feels too forced. Another third is fair, but the remainder is stunning -- mostly song-based and mostly nonirreverent. Tim Meadows' "The Ladies Man" character and a bunch of narration from Modeling School Central keeps the Handsome Boy concept going, but it's a concept that could carry one album, not two (also of note: "The Ladies Man"'s appearances are often tacked right onto the end of tracks, making the album more difficult to whittle down to a concise mixtape). Minus Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Casual, the rappers on White People sound too aware of their surroundings, too mannered. The mega-talented Pharrell Williams' contribution to "Class System" could have been carried off by anyone, so that leaves it up to people from the pop and rock realm to really bring it to the table. They do, with solid songs that could exist outside of Handsome Boy's heavy-with-concept world. Expect Jamie Cullum and John Oates' pop-solid "Biggest Mistake" to show up on a Christina Aguilera album sometime soon, while Cat Power's track is so well formed you have to wonder what the reaction will be when a Handsome Boy fan encounters one of her indie, skeletal, and spent early albums. Sounding like Paul Simon for the hoody generation, Jack Johnson's "Breakdown" is a surprising success, but just as surprising is that the genre-hopping, always risk-taking Mike Patton can't find the spark. Bringing reminders of a better track on a better album, "Rock & Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This), Pt. 2" is the album's problem in one song. Jumping from one style to another, the song never digs in like How's Your Girl's "Part 1," since ambition overtakes reason and cleverness overtakes everything. There's a killer EP worth of tracks strewn among the album and more than a few signs that Dan and Paul still got it. Stuck trying to re-create the daring excitement, Handsome Boy Modeling School turn in an album that's half as interesting as their debut, and half as interesting as their guest list.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
1:08
2 4:37
3
feat: Mike Patton
3:34 Amazon
4 5:24 Amazon
5
3:08 Spotify
6
feat: Jack Johnson
4:09
7 4:50 Amazon
8
feat: Cat Power
5:24
9 7:16 Amazon
10 4:28 SpotifyAmazon
11 4:30 Amazon
12
feat: Dres
4:19
13 5:36 Amazon
14 4:19 Amazon
15
0:36 Amazon
16
5:27
blue highlight denotes track pick