Indie Rock, 2004
I completely missed the splash the Kings of Convenience made when they came out with their debut Quiet is the New Loud back in 2001, but a quick Google reveals that, for a brief summer, critics went crazy over this Norwegian duo’s jazzy-bluesy acoustic sound.
My introduction to them comes from a rather perplexing source: MTV. I adore the song I’d Rather Dance with You, a catchy piece of Bossonova-tinged dance tune that manages to incorporate not one electronic instrument but still sounds like something one would cool down to in the club after a hard night of dancing. Visually, these two are interesting too. One of them – the one that looks like a taller, cuter Elijah Wood – is actually a practicing shrink who is into some kind of yoga-meditation thing. The other – the one that looks like a refugee from a 1980 amateur porn flick – is a DJ. The zen-like shrink in his well-pressed clothes and the spastic guy with geeky glasses and nerd clothes working together can only create a CD that is filled with hard-to-categorize music exhibiting diverse musical influences. Their second CD, Riot on an Empty Street, is a fabulous collection of great music.
They may not be great singers, but there is a laid-back quality to their lower tenor timbre that bring out the best in their music. Their voices don’t overpower the music as much as they add to it, if I’m making sense here. Some of the more blatant Simon and Garfunkel influences on some tracks result in smooth harmonies over laid-back easy-listening Bossonova tunes like Homesick, perfect for seminars, lazy days, and elevators. And they sound good too. But I love it best when the guys kick things up a notch, such as during the infectious I’d Rather Dance with You with its mischievous tongue-in-cheek lyrics. They even incorporate some indie Brit pop influences in Love Is No Big Truth, a song which would make Blur proud.
If there is a downside to this CD, it is that sometimes the smooth harmonies and laidback swing can get a little too laid back. But just when things threaten to become too monotonous, the Kings of Convenience always manage to come up with something to get back on track. Riot on an Empty Street is a beautiful head trip of a CD to get lost in. Mellow, jazzy, sometimes bluesy, often bouncy, occasionally sleepy, this CD offers a listening experience akin to a wonderful evening at a great pub where the atmosphere and company are fabulous and I don’t want to leave. I can talk over the music from this CD, dance to it, make love to it, cry to it, or just lay back in a comfortable sofa with an iced tea in hand to listen to it. A perfect minimalistic antidote to overproduced music on the radio, the Kings of Convenience are just the people I need to make my day.