Upon the release of their debut album ‘Quiet Is The New Loud’, Kings Of Convenience were seen to be at the forefront of a refulgent New Acoustic Movement in 2001, burgeoning at the hands of the Astralwerks record label. Along with the likes of Turin Brakes, the folk duos orchestrated simply serene undulations that struck a chord with critics, indie patrons, and parents alike. To couple such acts with the likes of Simon and Garfunkel would not have been seen as a slight against pretension or stereotype – they were simply nice.
Little has changed in their audible output since then. 2004’s ‘Riot On An Empty Street’ may not have had the instant charm and pitter-patter pop of ‘Winning a Battle, Losing a War’ and ‘Toxic Girl’, but the pair’s effortless intuition and adherence to unperturbed structures ruminated with peaceful precision and poise.
After a five-year hiatus, Eirik Glambek Boe and Erlend Oye still strum and pluck away with heartbreaking humility; however, behind the innocence of their unfurling folk tunes and angelic harmonies, lyrically they are not as innocuous as once thought.
Despite their platonic appreciation and unity, there is a great deal of loneliness, in hindsight honesty, and subdued contemplation throughout ‘Declaration Of Dependence’. ‘24-25’ opens with their idiosyncratically mellow movements through constructing arpeggios, unveiling the line “What we build is bigger than the some of two”; the jazzy dalliance of ‘Peacetime Resistance’ nostalgically calls for better days behind a thumping double bass and violin lead; and single ‘Mrs. Cold’ opens the door and deals with relationships lost to its musical ether.
Their ability to write rather bucolic and winsome tunes makes King Of Convenience somewhat of a reliable listen regardless of their content, as ‘Second To Numb’, ‘Riot On An Empty Street’ and ‘Power Of Not Knowing’ tread water with what they have already achieved in the way of diligently structured guitar work and angelic harmonies; however, ‘Declaration’ also sees the denunciation of political zealots veiled behind their softening sound, darkening the playful glee of ‘Rule My World’ with tenebrous asperity and depth: “You set yourself above that all forgiving God you claim that you believe in/Your kind is going to fall, your ship is sinking fast, and all your able men are leaving.” Granted, it is probably the most polite critique of political decision-making to date, with all the bite of the denture-adorned attempting to eat pork, but you get the point.
‘Declaration Of Dependence’ sees the pair strip back much of their sound to something of a comforting coffee shop coupling, simply leaving where they left off with their delicate deliverance and erudite craftsmanship. It might not be one for the protestors to get behind, but it’s certainly one for the parents and the people to enjoy.