Sunday, December 03, 2006
Kings of Convenience--Riot on an Empty Street (2004)
Artist-Kings of Convenience
Album-Riot on an Empty Street
Release Date-Jul 27, 2004
Biography-Bergen, Norway-based indie-pop duo Kings of Convenience teamed singer/guitarist Erik Glambek Bøe and guitarist Erlend Øye. After first earning notice thanks to a series of acclaimed European festival appearances during the summer of 1999, the twosome signed to American label Kindercore to issue their lovely eponymous debut the following spring. Quiet Is the New Loud was issued in early 2001on Astralwerks. The album used many of the same tracks from the Kindercore release but re-ordered them and replaced a few with newer songs. The remix album Versus followed later in the year and featured remixes by artists as diverse as Ladytron, avid Whitaker and Four Tet. After a three year layoff during which Øye recorded a solo album, 2003's Unrest, and gained some reknown as an electronica DJ while øe worked on finishing up his psychology degree, the pair teamed up again for the recording and release of 2004's excellent Riot on an Empty Street
Review-Riot on an Empty Street ends a long period of inactivity for Kings of Convenience. During their three-year layoff Erlend Øye could be found making solo records and DJing while Eirik Glambek Boe was finishing his psychology degree. Luckily for fans of beautiful vocals and thoughtful indie pop, they decided to get back together. What this band is all about is the sound of Boe and Øye's voices blended together in harmony. Their first album (in both incarnations) erred on the side of consistency. Here the band seems to have learned the all-important lesson of pace and variety. The arrangements are fuller too with pianos, strings, the occasional electric guitar, and lovely guest vocals on two tracks from Broken Social Scene member Leslie Feist. Not to say that they have gone crazy with change. They still stick pretty closely to the acoustic guitars and vocals path, and the tone of the album is autumnal and restrained as before. They have just added more songs like the gently driving "Misread," the lilting waltz "Stay Out of Trouble," and the downright peppy "I'd Rather Dance With You." Øye's side trip into electronica only rears it's head on the non-electronic but modern-sounding "Love Is No Big Truth." No matter what the song, though, when their tender, fragile voices harmonize it can be breathtaking. And heartbreaking. The moment in "Surprise Ice" when Eirik is joined by Erland will raise goose bumps. There are many others like that on Riot, and they are what sells the record. If you sort of liked the first record but wished it was more interesting, that it had more punch of both the sonic and emotional variety, then your wishes have come true.