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My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

Kings of Convenience – Declaration of Dependence album review

Kings of Convenience - Declaration of Dependence

The fact that the days are rapidly drawing in really helped to set the scene for the second album from this indie folk-pop duo from Norway.

It’s no wonder that their musical creativity has always yielded a soft, hushed and acoustic sound. After all, they do work a considerable number of hours under the cover of darkness – something which always makes me view the Kings of Convenience and indeed, the whole Norwegian population as a rather quiet, contemplative lot.

And it was with that same seasonal mindset that I first listened to Declaration of Dependence, before being plunged into the warmth and cosiness of what is, unmistakably, a beautiful album.

It’s been five years since Erland Øye and Eirik Glambak Bøe released Riot on an Empty Street, but those signature lilting lullaby vocals and soft plucked guitars are still there to woo.

Opener, 24-25 gets everything off to a great start. It’s the musical equivalent of stew and crusty bread – simple and heart warming, comprised of pure elements which blend perfectly together leaving you thoroughly satisfied.  

Mrs. Cold has breezy and breathy guitars that make for another pleasing listen, whilst Me In You (no innuendos please – I’m sure these innocent chappies didn’t mean it that way) offers something similar, only this time with a soft tinkling of ivory. Both Boat Behind and Rule My World run along the same atmospheric, airy, autumnal vein and are packed full of descriptive lyrics, light hearted violins and stripped down acoustics.

There’s a vulnerability that reappears dotted throughout lyrics on the album. In Renegade, the Kings murmur, “Go easy on me I can’t help what I’m doing”, similar to 24-25’s, “Give me today or you will just scare me away”. I have yet to decide whether this underlying tone has the effect of melting the emotions or grating the nerves.

Still, whilst the reaction to some of the more ‘wouldn’t say boo to a goose’ lyrics probably depends on an individual’s sympathies at the time of listening, the vulnerability within the melodies is definitely welcome. The duo’s almost timid sounding instruments are what make the album so good to listen to. They have managed to create nuances in sound, shifts in volume levels and different ways of playing their instruments so that guitars become both percussion and tune holders and violins are rhythm as well as melody creators.

The Kings of Convenience haven’t tried anything new with Declaration of Dependence. Not that this is a significant criticism because to be honest five years is a hefty gap from which to escape the criticism of churning out the same material year upon year. And on top of that, they have improved with age.

Sometimes though, the lines between the tracks do get blurred and all that wholesomeness can start to sound like the backing track to a stock cube advert. And if we’re splitting hairs, if I pitted them against other bands loosely within their genre, I would always go for the more edgy, creative choices like Lemon Jelly or Air.

However, that’s not to take away from the fact that Declaration of Dependence is as atmospheric as it is beautiful and you almost can’t help yourself wanting to take a walk in the park amongst the falling leaves every time you listen.

7/10

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