Sunday, December 05, 2004

Kings of Convenience

New & Used
By Pete Burakowski

Kings of Convenience, Riot on an Empty Street

“Homesick,” the opening track of Riot on an Empty Street, says a lot about Kings of Convenience. Erland Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe layer up whispering vibrato-free harmonies and sing about the sweetness of becoming lost in the midst of “two soft voices blended in perfection.” The obvious discipleship to Simon and Garfunkel that these Norwegians demonstrate on this track is mellowingly refreshing, and it serves as an excellent pacesetter for one of the most deliciously autumnal records to have been produced in recent years.

The songs of Riot feature the sense that Øye and Bøe have slipped into your room in the early morning to relay an important message, yet they are fearful of waking you. The intimacy of the tunes is amplified by their fairly litter-free textures. In “Misread,” a bossa tune that receives all of its percussion from the shucking of a nylon-string guitar, the simplest piano line suddenly takes on the most potent, genuine beauty.

The Kings throw in a few upbeat, dance-inspired tunes (“Love is No Big Truth” and “I’d Rather Dance With You”), but this is not the stuff to get mixed in with your next “Rock the House Party Mix 7” CD. Instead, toss Riot in after Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister when you feel you’ve earned yourself some quality down-time.

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