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The Kings Of Convenience - Declaration of Dependence

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Artist: The Kings Of Convenience

Album: Declaration of Dependence

Label: Astralwerks

Review date: Oct. 16, 2009

The cover of Declaration of Dependence, the third full-length album from Kings of Convenience, shows the Norwegian duo relaxing on an idyllic tropical beach. Eirik Bøe, bronzed and nearly naked, contemplates his guitar, while Erlend Øye, pale and dressed in white, peers into the grey distance.

It’s a telling image, as the duo seem to have left the ice floes behind on Declaration, opting instead for a lighter, breezier set reflecting a growing interest in bossa nova. The album is a retreat of sorts from the group’s quasi-electric flirtations on 2004’s Riot on an Empty Street, but not quite the equal of the chilly, autumnal folk of their acclaimed acoustic debut Quiet is the New Loud.

As with any Kings record, there are many very pretty moments: "Peacetime Resistance," with its violin accompaniments, is a lush and rhythmic sequel to the previous record’s "Misread"; the vocals on the album closer (also titled "Riot on an Empty Street") recall some of the haunting quality that won the duo superficial but apt comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel. Elsewhere, the corny but catchy "Boat Behind" and the vaguely sea shanty-like "My Ship Isn’t Pretty" allude to the album’s nautical themes while reinforcing nicely-drawn allegories about longing for a specific person, place or time.

But too much of the album seems to just drift, and several of the songs are fluffy and insubstantial, notably the single "Mrs Cold" (the lyrics of which include "Hey Baby / what is Love / it’s just a game"). The Kings have always been calm and quiet, but never this sedate or easy.

Declaration of Dependence is thus a welcome return from a long-absent band, and a fine easy-listening album, but one that ultimately feels emptier than its predecessors. Like Eirik and Erlend daydreaming on the beach, it’s a holiday that strangely leaves you wanting more.

By Nick Cuce'

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