Kings Of Convenience - Declaration Of Dependence

It is quite remarkable to hear the enchanting sounds the duo is able to produce given their stark, muted arrangements.

Usually, when a band reemerges with a new album after a five year absence, they raise a bit of a ruckus to announce their return. In the case of Norway’s Kings Of Convenience, however, they actually scaled things back musically on ‘Declaration Of Dependence’, their first new record since 2004’s ‘Riot On An Empty Street’, minimizing their already hushed sound to strictly vocals and guitars, with the occasional string accompaniment thrown in to spice things up. And in the process, Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambæk Bøe have crafted a delicate, diaphanous album that seems to float in gently on the fading autumn breeze, leaving just traces of their sparse melodies lingering in the restorative air. Due to the album’s minimalist approach, the songs do tend to sound somewhat similar (especially during the rather monotonous second half of the record), but it is quite remarkable to hear the enchanting sounds the duo is able to produce given their stark, muted arrangements.

The album opens with the wistful ‘24-25’, which features intricate fingerpicking on the guitar and restrained vocal harmonies from Øye and Bøe. The bouncy melody of the album’s first single ‘Mrs. Cold’ sounds a bit like a stripped down Vampire Weekend demo, but still manages to soar due to the bright vocals and the nuanced strings that augment the jaunty guitars. ‘Me In You’ is pleasant enough, but fails to break any new ground either musically or lyrically, and fails to leave much of a lasting impression. The lush string arrangement in ‘Boat Behind’ truly carries the song, as does the catchy chorus. They pack a lot of indelible sounds into this song, despite the nominal instruments used throughout, and that serves as a testament to the duo’s unfailing ability to craft a catchy melody, and pair that with striking but ultimately simple lyrics.

‘Rule My World’ leans a bit too heavily on the chorus, with the duo getting overly crafty with their call and response lyrics, overshadowing the playful guitar line that is understatedly layered throughout the song. The lumbering pace of ‘My Ship Isn’t Pretty’ bogs the song down just a bit, and also causes it to blend in colorlessly with the carefully shaded hues of the album. It fits in quite well to the albums sound and style, but essentially sounds too similar to the other tracks to distinguish itself at all. That trend continues on ‘Renegade’, which again has a pleasing, tranquil sound, but coming as it does on the second half of an album filled with songs that sound so alike, it gives the record a real homogeneous, slightly bland sound. You find yourself wishing for them to shake things up a bit, maybe bring in the more experimental, dream-pop sound of Øye’s other project, The Whitest Boy Alive, but alas, that influence never arrives, and the second half of the album lags due to the structured, analogous sound.

The band knowingly nods to it’s past on ‘Riot On An Empty Street’, a song that apparently existed long before the album that bears it’s name. The hypnotic guitar featured on the track is transfixing, along with the flourish found in the solo, which helps elevate the song despite rather staid lyrics. It’s the best song found on the rather lackluster second half of the album, which closes out with two rather nondescript numbers that fail to achieve anything all that memorable. And while the record always remains a pleasurable listening experience, especially during the stellar first half of the album, it ultimately fails to attain anything truly innovative or pioneering in the end, blending into a nearly indistinguishable clutter.

Tags: Kings Of Convenience, Reviews, Album Reviews

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