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[Off The Record]
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Kings of Convenience
(Source UK/Astralwerks)

Had Simon and Garfunkel grown up as specks on Norway’s blue-and-green horizon instead of dots in Manhattan’s slate-gray matrix, their acoustic, harmony-dappled folk pop might’ve sounded like the kind the Kings of Convenience make on Quiet Is the New Loud. Members of the same European clique that’s produced " smart rock " sensations Coldplay and Badly Drawn Boy, the Kings employ the clean, lyrical grace suggested by their homeland’s geography to craft breathtakingly economical songs about hushed, intimate desperation.

It’s that spartan sense of restraint — nimbly picked acoustic guitar is apparently the Kings’ idea of the new loud — that makes these songs distinctive, and it’s what emphasizes the greatest songwriting gift of Erlend Øy and Eirik Glambek Bøe: their ability to make the prosaic sound poetic. On " I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From, " Bøe describes a paramour as " somebody for whom I wouldn’t mind to put the kettle on " but manages to make it ring like the most tender of titles with a few chords and a supple cello line. They add some color to " Failure, " using a skeletal trap kit and their close harmonies to approximate a sort of woolly post-punk tapestry, but keep the tone bewitchingly ascetic: " Using the Guardian as a shield to cover my thighs against the rain/I do not mind about my hair. "


Issue Date: March 29 - April 4, 2001

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