Kings of Convenience is the mellow indie pop duo of Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye. Riot on an Empty Street is their third major label album, and ended a three year layoff during which time Eirik was going to school for a psychology degree, and Erlend was becoming a popular electronica DJ in Germany. Both members were childhood friends in Norway.
What this band is is beautifully crafted vocal harmonies. There is guitar and piano accompaniment, but the album (with a couple exceptions) lacks any percussion. While their first album was a very consistant record, it was easy to write off as one dimensional as the songs all followed the same pacing and style. On Riot, they implement piano, occassional strings, and occasionally an electric guitar.
Kings also recieved some wonderful guest vocals from Broken Social Scene vocalist Leslie Feist on the songs Know-How and The Build-Up. Overall there is a much broader range of sounds on Riot on an Empty Street. From the most upbeat and peppy track "I'd Rather Dance With You" (probably their biggest hit), and driving "Misread", to the gentle ballads "Cayman Islands" and "Gold in the Air of Summer", to the fragile and longingness of "Homesick", there is a song for practically evey mood. This is a nice feel good album that is sure to put you in a good mood.
Eirik Glambek Bøe - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Erlend Øye - Guitar, Piano, Vocals, Drums, Banjo, Trumpet
Leslie Feist - Vocals
Davide Bertolini - Bass, Upright Bass
This song has probably the most gorgeous guitar riff that I have heard. The lyrics are about what really makes a home what it really is. The line "every day there's a boy in the mirror asking me 'what are you doing here'" really sets the tone of the song, and the final line of the song, "Homesick, 'cause I no longer no where home is" is the perfect ending. This is an amazing song, so fragile, so beautiful.
This is a more driving song, the upbeat guitar paces the song nicely, which is needed because of the lack of percussion. There are also some nice piano fills. This is one of the more popular songs from Kings of Convenience in Europe at least, and rightly so as it is a very strong song. My favorite lyric is "How come no one told me, all throughout history, the loneliest people were the ones who always spoke the truth. The ones who made a difference, but were standing indifferent, I guess it's up to me now, should I take that risk or just smile?".
My favorite song on the record by far. The delicate guitar riff and intimate and wispy vocal harmonies really paint a portrait, and it is a very effective love song, and has the first use of strings on the album. I love the line "If only they could see, if only they had been here, they would understand how someone could have chosen to go the length I've gone to spend just one day riding. Holding onto you, I never thought it would be this clear." I can't say enough about this song, it is just fantastic.
"Know-How" implements a slightly funky guitar riff which is a nice change of pace for the album. The vocals are still very intimate, but the dueling guitars are the star of the song. Halfway through the song, Leslie Feist sings a beautiful duet part of "What is there to know? This is what it is. You and me alone, sheer simplicity." The accompaniment here is just a piano at first before slowly the guitars come back end and the song climaxes nicely.
"Love is No Big Truth"
"All I do is sleep all day and think of you." This is obviously a love song, but it is more than that as they delve into what love really is and what love drives us to do despite it being "driven by our gene, we're simple selfish beings". The song overall has extremely catchy and funky guitar riffs, and even a banjo solo near the end of the song. It is a wonderful start to the second half of the album.
"I'd Rather Dance With You"
This song is atypical of what you find on this album. It is probably the most danceable song. I only mention it because it is arguably the most popular KoC song, and was the first song that I heard from them and it really got me turned on to them. Now looking back it is rather average on the record, but still an impressive song and a nice change of pace. Also I like the video for it. :)
"Gold in the Air of Summer"
This song oddly brings back memories of my childhood. I don't know if it is just the lyrics, or the warm guitars and harmonized vocals, or the beautiful piano fills, or the gentle horn solo, but there is something. This is what I really look for in music, a song that can elicit some sort of emotional reaction from me. This song succeeds in that, and that is what makes it one of my favorites on the album.
Recommended for fans of:
Sondre Lerche (Norwegian connection)
Belle and Sebastian
This is an album that quite frankly you can't go wrong with. It a a chill masterpiece, and an almost flawless album. It loses a few points for being a bit one-dimensional, but I still recommend it highly.