Described in iTunes and other reviews variously as ‘lo-fi’, ‘autumnal’ and ‘chill-out’, Kings of Convenience was an accidental stumble-upon when wandering the by-ways of iTunes Genius suggestions. A quick preview of a few tracks on Declaration of Dependence gave me the kind of things I’m clearly a sucker for: gentle guitar strums and fingerpicks, rolling harmonies, gentle-slightly-sad melodies and understated vocals.
I’ve been quite quickly won over by this Norwegian duo and this album (with reviews of further Kings of Convenience albums to follow). It manages to be light and airy across a pleasant blend of acoustic ‘chill out’ numbers (Mrs Cold and Rule My World as highlights) as well as a few overcast numbers; Scars on Land being the standout with spare guitar and melancholic overtones.
It’s not surprising that reviewers note shades of Simon and Garfunkle in Øye and Bøe’s close and intimate vocals. Male dual vocals are an unusual pairing, with male and female vocals much more common, or the hushed individual male voice (think Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam). And the simple harmonies and well-blended tones work for Kings of Convenience, giving the whole album a gentle, sun-warmed quality and making it feel comfortable and familiar.
Conversely a criticism could be levelled at Declaration of Dependence for being too mellow and not showing enough light and shades across the track list. For a two-voice-two-guitar ensemble, that’s certainly a risk (read the previous review on Jakob Dylan for such critique), but Kings of Convenience carries itself with an earnestness and with quality lyrics that lift it out of soporific, formulaic strumming and harmony lines.
A great listen – watch this space for further exploration of the Kings of Convenience catalogue.