Yet another Norwegian folk band on Astralwerks, Kings of Convenience are a little louder than some of the label’s other acts. OK, so they stick out like sore thumbs on an artist roster that includes Fatboy Slim and “the Chems.” But these are not your average funk-soul brothers, nor are these overproduced block-rockin’ beats.
Quiet Is the New Loud happily lives up to its not-so-bold title. More than just a faddish mantra in the music world (see Low, Belle and Sebastian), QITNL is now axiomatic as we play a losing game of dodgeball with annoyingly fast-paced media.
Nylon-stringed guitars in a rainbow of arpeggios with minimal violin and piano accompaniments accessorize the Kings’ gentle lyricism. Would-be sappy ballads come alive as they speak to the generic core of love and longing. Honestly, at some points they sound like Bread with slightly less reverb (not that there’s anything wrong with that). More often, though, they are a contemporary Simon & Garfunkel, lovesick and heavily sedated on Quaaludes.
K of C drone along the tightrope of earnest sentimentality, losing their balance at some points, but maintaining composure throughout. Moods are brightest, albeit heavy on the melancholia tip, with buoyantly harmonized tunes such as “Toxic Girl,” “Singing Softly to Me” and “The Girl from back Then.” “Failure,” however, is when K of C’s tightrope performance is lacking as they strum on about how “failure is always the best way to learn” (insert finger in mouth now).
Eventually, though, we discover gems such as “Summer on the Westhill” and “Parallel Lines,” which showcase some of the finest songwriting in recent memory. “Parallel Lines,” for instance, is breathtaking: “What’s the immaterial substance that envelops two/One perceives as hunger/And the other as food … Parallel lines/Move so fast/Toward the same point/Infinity is near as it is far.” Wow.
E-mail Robert Gorell at [email protected].