Kings of Convenience - Declaration of Dependence

So what's left to do when you've soundtracked a million bouts of nerdy unrequited love with the quite brilliant Toxic Girl and helped pave the way for a boatload of indie kids to get into dance music via a fantastic DJ-Kicks Mix? Well if you're Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe, AKA Norway's premier indie-folk pop duo, you kick around for five years between albums, keeping your devoted fanbase gagging for more. So here we are, 2009, and the third Kings of Convenience album drops.

Unsurprisingly, they elected not to change a winning formula and have produced another gentle collection of simple, harmonious ditties that tug at the heartstrings and set your foot tapping. Boat Behind, a song served up as a taster for this latest release, is a perfect example of the duo's sound, a stripped-down, upbeat track featuring an addictive oh oh ooh chorus. It sits comfortably on the first half of the album next to the sun-kissed, deliciously fluid ballad Me In You, and on first listen you start to wonder if it could prove to be a mistake releasing such a summery album just as the nights start to draw in. It quickly becomes apparent though that Declaration of Dependence is a carefully balanced balance of light and shade. The pain of a failing relationship is detailed in the restrained Second to Numb, while The Power of Not Knowing is a striking lament to innocence lost. The sparse My Ship Isn't Pretty, meanwhile, recalls Libertine-era Patrick Wolf, capturing the same tangible sense of wounded isolation.

This is the sound of two people working in perfect harmony - the pair obviously know each other inside out and backwards. The addition of viola on a smattering of songs complement the Kings' sound perfectly, adding a swooping, jaunty air to the easy groove of Peacetime Resistance. It's the intertwining melodies of the two vocalists that is the real draw though, and their harmonies weave through the music to enchanting effect. There's nothing groundbreaking to be found here, but sometimes good songs are all you need.



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