They’ve never sounded quite as effortless – or as intuitive – as they do here.
James Skinner 2009
“Music your parents like too” is how Kings of Convenience describe themselves on their MySpace profile. It’s a telling statement; self-effacing, sure, but not without a grain of truth – a tacit acknowledgement that the music Eirik Bøe and Erlend Øye make isn’t the kind to offend millions, move mountains, part oceans. No, it’s lovely, pretty, well crafted; it’s nice. And sometimes, well, that’s just plenty.
After a prolonged period of inactivity, the pair reconvened in Mexico to play their first show in two years, where Declaration of Dependence was gestated (on the very beach that features on the album cover, in fact). Its title aims to set right the bad press ‘dependence’ often receives, reflecting the fruitful working relationship the duo share. More than that, it also addresses the perils of the modern age: the plethora of options and opportunity surrounding us that threatens to engulf and consume as much as it does amuse and enlighten.
Of course, such worldly cogitation doesn’t fall squarely under the ‘nice’ bracket, and this record (the band’s third) boasts enough twists and turns to elevate it far above the banal. The sparse pleas of Renegade – and its haunting parting shot – are memorable and affecting, while the sedate arpeggios of album closer Scars on Land resonate long after it ceases to play. A distinctive bossa nova streak also runs through the album, making its presence felt early in the delightful Mrs. Cold and culminating on the whimsical Freedom and Its Owner.
Riot on an Empty Street also features, an evocative number dating back to 2001, forming a perpetual thorn in the duo’s side in terms of recording the thing. It’s gorgeous, but no more so than 24-25, which opens proceedings: a serene jam where Bøe and Øye’s gossamer harmonies entwine around each other with nimble grace.
It sets a high precedent, and one that Declaration of Dependence emphatically lives up to. Perhaps the highest compliment you can pay Kings of Convenience in 2009 is that for an act whose success stems directly from their effortlessly intuitive style, they’ve never sounded quite as effortless – or as intuitive – as they do here.
Heck, your parents will probably like it too.