Recommended Albums #57


Kings of Convenience: Riot On An Empty Street (2004)

Erlend Øye and Erik Glambek Bøe are Norwegian indie folk duo Kings of Convenience, part of the short-lived “new acoustic movement” of the previous decade which brought such artists as Damien Rice, Turin Brakes and Starsailor to the fore.

Their 2001 album’s title, Quiet is the New Loud, practically became the movement’s rallying cry. Riot…followed a three year gap between releases which saw Øye experimenting with dance pop before returning to his acoustic folk roots here.

kings ofThis album builds on the lilting, appealing acoustic folk sound of the earlier release while expanding the sonic palate with well-placed strings, cello, horns, banjo and upright bass.

“Homesick” echoes the sound of Simon & Garfunkel’s “two soft voices blended in perfection”. The existential confusion of “Misread” wafts across on a gentle bossa nova rhythm.

Perhaps the album’s most affecting song, “Sorry or Please” finds its protagonist, recently released from prison, reconnecting with the old neighborhood and a potential new flame. The coy, clumsy, tentative first steps of a nascent love affair are articulated by both the lyric and the wistful trumpet-and-banjo solo (an unlikely but effective pairing). Exquisite.

Five weeks in a prison,
I made no friends.
There’s more time to be done, but
I’ve got a week to spend.
I didn’t pay much attention first time around,
But now you’re hard not to notice,
Right here in my town.
Where the stage of my old life
Meets the cast of the new.
Tonights actors… me and you.

Each day is taking us closer,
While drawing the curtains to close.
This far, or further, I need to know.
Your increasingly long embraces,
Are they saying sorry or please?
I don’t know what’s happening,
Help me.

Through the streets,
On the corners,
There’s a scent in the air.
I ask you out and I lead you.
I know my way around here.
There’s a bench I remember,
And on the way there I find that the movements you’re making,
Are mirrored in mine.
And your hand is held open,
Intentionally, or just what I want to see?

Your increasingly long embraces,
Are they saying sorry or please?
I don’t know what’s happening, help me.
I don’t normally beg for assistance,
I rely on my own eyes to see,
But right now they make no sense to me,
Right now you make no sense to me.

This is a remarkable album of gentle folk with a sweet nostalgic feel. It makes a persuasive case for the power of quiet music.

Listen to: “Homesick”

Listen to: “Misread”

Listen to: “Cayman Islands”

Listen to: “Stay Out of Trouble”

Listen to: “Sorry or Please”

See also:

See also:

See also:

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