Album Reviews

Kings Of Convenience – Riot On An Empty Street

(Source) UK release date: 21 June 2004

Kings Of Convenience - Riot On An Empty Street Kings Of Convenience made a big impression with their debut album, the aptly titled Quiet Is The New Loud, receiving critical acclaim from one and all. So who can blame them for sticking with the old adage that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?

Riot On An Empty Street has all of the whimsical charm that made their 2001 effort such a success, even in the form of a remarkably similar cover, featuring two Kings Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye alongside a mysterious and unnamed woman.

If anything though, this new album is even ‘nicer’ than the first. First track Homesick is a beautiful opener, leaving you drifting away in the sea of soft guitars and hushed voices that we’ve come accustomed to, and setting the tone for what is to follow.

The opening to Misread, meanwhile, is very reminiscent of Nick Drake. Starting with piano and acoustic guitar, it is a song which you could slip in the middle of the folk legend’s Bryter Layter album and wouldn’t even notice that something which wasn’t there yesterday had strangely been added.

Of course Drake is as quintessentially English as it gets, yet this would also be exactly the description you would label fourth track Stay Out Of Trouble with. Shades of 18th century England come to mind when you hear the opening strings and there is even the mention of “10 pence pieces” in the lyrics. Indeed you have to remind yourself that the Kings themselves aren’t in fact from Stratford-upon-Avon but Bergen in Norway.

Know How moves along in a similarly happy and chilled out vein and includes a guest appearance from Canadian songstress Leslie Feist. Popping up midway she takes the song into a different direction, slowing things down before Oye’s voice joins hers and the tempo picks up pace again, albeit never surpassing a slow jog.

There are shades of Tori Amos‘ Cornflake Girl about the start to Sorry Or Please, which is the first time on the album that any drums are used. This can be seen as a bit of a turning point in the album because the next track, Love Is No Big Truth includes some very funky guitar sounds straight from the ’70s and a punchy drum beat which will have your foot tapping all the way through.

Another more up tempo track, I’d Rather Dance With You, has clear single potential and some great lyrics about why it’s better just to dance rather than talk with a girl you meet in a nightclub. Methinks real life experiences may well have been drawn on when the lads were writing this one. But who needs to talk when you’ve got their money?

One thing you notice with this album is just how raw most of the guitars are and just how live it sounds. It’s almost as if they are playing the song there and then in your house – no overdubs required. No more clearly is this evident than on the delicate Surprise Ice, a song whose beauty lies in its pure simplicity.

Ms Fiest crops up again on the album’s closing song, The Build Up, which strangely has a bit of a country twang to it. Kings Of Convenience doing country? Whatever next! As with everything they seem to try it works wonderfully well though.

Riot On An Empty Street doesn’t have an obvious sing-along chart hit like Toxic Girl but you will struggle to hear a more beautifully crafted album all year. Who said the “New Acoustic Movement” was dead?

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