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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 54 - 03/09/01

Kings of Convenience
Quiet Is The New Loud
Source/Virgin

Kings of Convenience were hailed as the next big thing by Norwegian media a few months ago. Some of their earlier records even fared well with the British music press last year and probably opened some doors. Quiet was mainly recorded in a studio in Liverpool. The French Source label have secured a distribution contract for the album with Virgin, I believe, and it was launched in 13 countries simultaneously last month. Now they've been hired as the support act on parts of Low's European tour; check out the Low interview in last moon's menu. Not bad for two Norwegian 25 year old boys!

The Kings have been compared with Belle and Sebastian, Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel... Well, at least we can put them all into that singer-acoustic-guitar-and-songwriter bag if we want to. The formula is excellent guitar playing and harmony vocals, some sad and some not so sad songs, 12 in all. Cellos, piano and a cool trumpet have been added to about half the songs, one is even by drums!

The Weight Of My Words is a beautiful little melancholy blues (well, not blues), but the string solo (or whatever) seems to try to underline the feel of the song a little too much. It sounds calculated to these ears. Still it's a favourite along with the lively pop-rocker Failure. That cello gliding in and out is as close as we get to magic. The riff of I Don't Know What I Can Save You From (is riff the correct word when it's played with nylon strings?) is the only part of the album that's been spinning around in my head after listening to the album quite a lot.

The lyrics mainly deal with past, present or possible future relationships - or relationships that never was to be. The Passenger (not the Iggy song, far from it!) is haunting in its simplistic arrangement. Is it the guitars or only the lyrics that leave me uneasy, like a threatening stowaway on board a ship? You know he's on board, but not where. Great! On the other hand I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics of Parallel Lines is about.

I guess the album appeals to lonely young men, or students gathering in the evenings to drink tea or wine and discuss intellectual matters - perhaps even their parents. I don't feel at home in neither of those categories and half the album passes me by without too many traces. The melodies or those clever jazz chords might not be catchy enough or lack some hooks. The Kings want people to be more conscious about silence, which is an important matter these days. But when they say quiet is the new loud, I'm not too sure. That New York duo mentioned above told us about The Sound Of Silence more than 30 years ago. I don't see Kings of Convenience as the innovative saviours of quietness.

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