Plumbiferous Media

Declaration of Dependence – Kings of Convenience

Oct 22nd 2009
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Declaration of Dependence - Kings of Convenience Kings of Convenience
Declaration of Dependence
Score: 95

The Kings of Convenience, Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe, have now been active for about a decade, producing under the Astralwerks label, and more recently, EMI. In fact, the bands first album under EMI was released this past Tuesday, and Declaration of Dependence certainly shows off the band’s healthy level of experience. The duo’s new album continues in the vein of relaxed, almost purist music that the Kings of Convenience have made their home, and Declaration of Dependence is not only one of the best light albums recently released but also one of the top albums released this year.

Although certain non-guitar stringed instruments will occasionally add themselves to the album, and a keyboard can even be heard briefly on “Freedom and Its Owner,” the Kings of Convenience focuses mainly on developing its two most important instruments, its guitars. Although roles shift as fluidly as the music itself, the standard arrangement seems to be one rhythm guitar and one melodic or harmonic guitar. Although both work together to create an incredibly diverse, beautiful album, the rhythm guitar must be given its own award for acting not only as simply a rhythm guitar, but a percussion instrument as necessary. And as is to be expected from two expert guitarists, the instrumental section of the album never falls short of excellent. Instruments never cease to interact perfectly with one another, never stray too long on a single segment and fall into repetitiveness, never fail to provide perfect amounts of contrast between tracks, and always remain rich, texturally detailed, deceptively intricate, and utterly beautiful.

The vocal interplay between Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe is both beautifully composed and perfectly suited to the slow, melodic sound of Kings of Convenience. Almost constant vocal harmonies provide vocal layers throughout the music, which change position fluidly, carefully preventing conflict between the two vocalists. Instead, their voices are expertly fit together, both with each other and within the larger musical cocoon of Declaration of Dependence. It’s a fundamentally simple combination, but one which is responsible for a remarkable amount of Declaration of Dependence‘s success. Vocally, Kings of Convenience creates a sound that is simultaneously clear and beautifully complex – not unlike their music as a whole.

Lyrically, Declaration of Dependence is simple but by no means simplistic. The way in which Øye and Bøe’s vocals complement each other is doubly impressive when applied to the imagery throughout Declaration of Dependence. One of the better tracks of the album, “My Ship Isn’t Pretty,” begins with the intriguing “The telegraph gave us hope / Before was the silence and the panic it brought / The sky was the blankest sheet / We drew lines upon it so our thoughts could meet.” Slightly subdued vocals tell the tale beautifully, with details such as the slight exhalation on the last syllable of “hope” infusing the music with life. Declaration of Dependence is carefully filled with compelling stories of this sort, such that it is as strong lyrically as it is vocally.

And not only do the lyrics fit perfectly with the vocals, but the vocals fit perfectly with the instrumentals, the instrumentals reflect the meaning of the lyrics, and the entire album constantly pulls itself into a cohesive, never tiring sea of music. Additionally commendable is the recording and mastering itself, which managed to provide the album in extreme clarity, but also immensely detailed depth of sound, and even more noticeably, warmth of sound, all to an extent that is generally quite difficult to achieve without a vinyl copy. Declaration of Dependence is, though maybe not the perfect album, certainly an amazing album, from any and every perspective.

Declaration of Dependence is a triumph for Kings of Convenience. Combining expertly orchestrated vocals, well-written and intriguing lyrics, and well-composed instrumentals, all with the subtlety that is a trademark of the group, Kings of Convenience has taken all of the best parts of their earlier work and combined it into their best work so far. Declaration of Dependence is thought-provoking, intriguing, entirely genuine, and in short, excellent.

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