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Kings of Convenience | Quiet is the New Loud (Source)
They may have inadvertently given the imagined new acoustic movement a slogan, but Bergen's Kings of Convenience have delivered an album to transcend any manufactured scene, and one destined to find a place in the hearts and minds of anyone with, well, an open heart and mind. And yes, we are talking about two young Norweigans (namely lead vocalist Eirik Glambek Boe and his large-lensed sidekick Erlend Oye) armed with nothing more threatening than acoustic guitars (one nylon, one steel) and a steady supply of sublime melodies and charmingly naive lyrics delivered by engagingly unaffected voices. QITNL's dozen tracks include five previously heard on the 2000 self-titled release on Kindercore Records intended for sale in the US only, four of which feature on 'side one' of this European release (all tracks are new recordings, besides one doesn't imagine many disgruntled purchasers complaining of having 'too many Kings of Convenience records'), and include the melodic perfection of opener Winning a Battle, Losing the War, Toxic Girl's irresistably quaint 'Trumpton' jauntiness (a warning: it has some tentatively brushed drums on it), the unmistakable nylon pluck of I Don't Know What I Can Save You From and Erlend Oye's sole lead vocal, Failure in which he tells of "using the Guardian as a shield" from a downpour before imparting the moral of his tale - "Failure is always the best way to learn / retracing your steps until you know / have no fear your wounds will heal." Wide-eyed innocence or knowingly earnest, who can tell? Sandwiched between the foursome sits the aptly titled Singing Softly To Me, previously heard on their essential Source debut Playing Live In A Room EP, echoed in the short, one-take The Girl From Back Then, with its almost music-box style piano outro, one of the genuinely 'new' songs on the record, and the one chosen to open 'side two.' This is the more reflective side of the record, the band shedding some of the more whimsical elements of their sound and finding new depth in the drifting Summer on the Westhill, with its perfectly judged cello, and the downbeat Parallel Lines which closes the record on a resigned note - "if when the music ended / you did not retreat / in my imagination you are cast in gold / your image a compensation for me to hold." With Quiet Is The New Loud, Eirik and Erlend have forged an album so pure and unassuming that its stark simple beauty cannot fail to win over all but the most hardened of hearts.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001

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