Okay, let us get real people, the only similiarities between Simon and Garfunkle and the Kings of Convenience are that they both use acoustic guitars and sing in triads. Honestly, that's about it. Moving on to the album...it's good, quite good in fact. That's all I have to say, and it should be enough considering the fact that this comment came from me, a rather fickle pickle.
It must be tough to follow up a success such as "Quiet is the New Loud", and many people feared that Kings of Convenience would be a one-off as the band members each got stuck into other projects - Erlend Øye went solo with an ambient project, and Eirik Glambæk Bøe concentrated on his studies (in psychology, I think). But here it is: The long awaited follow up. And it's a very pleasant listen. This sort of subtle, acoustic music never really goes out of style. You could just as easily give this album to your mother or even grandmother and they'd probably enjoy it just as much as you do (yikes!). That doesn't much sound like a good recommendation for a pop record ... but it is. The crisp clean production and first-rate musicianship makes this a treat to listen to, even though the harmonies are the oldest in the book, but also probably the most immediately pleasing for exactly that reason. This time the duo invite a French female guest writer and vocalist Feist for some variation - which works really well. Take Simon and Garfunkel - add a bit of jazzy stuff here and there and a bit more melancholy in some places, and you have a pretty good general idea of what this record has to offer. I don't understand, though, why some reviewers find this only mopey - but then again I am familiar with Erlend and Eiriks home town where the weather is always rainy. We do nothing but stare out of rainsplashed windows all year (well, almost). And I know that this is when you want something as soothing as this on your stereo: While you make a cup of hot tea and read the paper, or invite some close friends around for a quiet, home-cooked meal. But it's equally good to rest your sleepy head to on a sunny, lazy summer afternoon: "Gold in the air of summer", indeed. I'm also already waiting in anticipation for the Röyksopp dance remix of "I'd rather dance" - probably the catchiest uptempo tune on this record. (Röyksopp, can you hear me??)
The Kings Of Convenience: soulful, sensitive, Scandinavian (tick all that apply). Norwegian duo Erlend Øye (the earnest, bespectacled one) and Eirik Glambek Bøe (the enigmatic, hunky one) channel Simon and Garfunkel in Riot On An Empty Street, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut Quiet Is The New Loud. In fact, Homesick and Gold In The Air Of Summer capture the melodic spirit of the folk duo so uncannily and so beautifully, that for a moment I thought I was listening to the wrong CD. Either that, or to a Simon and Garfunkel covers band. The gentle strumming of the acoustic, nylon and steel string guitars set the offbeat, folksy mood as the duo sing together, one 'high voice', the other 'low voice', of the usual melancholy and suffering for love and art, with cut-out-and-stick-on-your-fridge axioms like "a song for someone who needs somewhere to long for" (Homesick), "love is no big truth, driven by our genes, we are selfish human beings" (Love Is No Big Truth), and the "summer child that sits by the water, weaving sunlight threads in his hands" (Live Long). Interspersed between the occasionally austere folk songs are fleet-footed melodies and whimsical words, but the messages remain consistent: gentle advice ("A friend is not a means you utilize to get somewhere", Misread) and sepia-tinted, idealised memories ("These canals, it seems, they all go in circles, places look the same, and we're the only difference", Cayman Islands). A guest appearance by the current-toast-of-Paris/Jane Birkin-look-a-like Feist on Know-How only cements the album's chic-ness. The Kings Of Convenience have an undeniable appeal to those who adore fruit-infused tea, minimalist furniture and staring out through blurred windowpanes on dreary rainy days.