Kings Of Convenience
Peace Or Love
Recording an album can be an arduous process. We’ve all heard the stories of what artists have put themselves through to capture the exact thing that is in their head to tape. For Norwegian duo Kings Of Convenience the journey to create their latest album, Peace Or Love, was one that spanned over five years and across five different countries. The group’s last record, Declaration of Dependence, was released twelve years ago in 2009 and you would imagine that with such a long time between records, the band had disbanded.
While Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye did work on many of their own pursuits during that time, Eirik teaching architectural psychology in his home of Bergen and Erlend fronting the band Whitest Boy Alive and touring as a successful DJ, the plan was always to get back together to make the songs that rattled around their head a reality. The pair certainly succeeded with Peace Or Love. The record is a breath of fresh air. The two musicians use their usual sparse arrangements to the advantage of the songs, showcasing their wonderful guitar playing and the beautiful ways in which their voices interact. This isn’t the big bombastic comeback most would expect from an act that has been away from the cultural consciousness for so long but this is because it isn’t a big comeback. It’s just two old friends getting back together to do what they do best.
Kings Of Convenience took their time recording Peace Or Love. By all accounts the record was recorded many times as the duo walked the line between perfecting what they wanted to come across in the recordings and still managing to keep the proceedings as exciting as possible. The album unfolds at its own pace. Kicking things off with “Rumours” the pair sets the tone immediately for what the listener is getting themselves into. Beautifully crisp guitars float through the liminal space accentuating Eirik and Erlend’s gorgeous vocals and melodies. It’s so spare and interestingly this makes the song hit harder. The performances have clearly been properly rehearsed, as everything you hear is live off the floor, but there are so many special little moments that add to the track’s warmth. A bit of string noise here and the way one of the singers leans away from the microphone there make it all so intimate and full of character. “Rocky Trail” adds some sparse percussion, some buoyant strings and a Bossa Nova feel to the mix. The addition of some new textures is welcome but the intimacy remains the same. Another lovely texture added to the record is with the addition of guest vocalist Leslie Feist. On the sparing “Love Is A Lonely Thing”, the Canadian icon fits right in with the King’s comfortably situated voices and that Bossa Nova feel makes a welcome return on the second of Feist’s appearances, “Catholic Country”
Five years and five countries seems like an especially long way to go for an album that sounds as easy as Peace Or Love but that just goes to show that the most simple of listens can be the most complicated to create. Hanging everything they have on two voices and two guitars may seem unchallenging but the space that hangs in between the songs’ limited production speak as loud as the songs themselves. Kings Of Convenience know how to use this space in the finest way. It also helps that the duo are uncommonly talented, which also makes the epic wait for their latest opuscule, an extremely worthwhile one.