Even after 12 years away there was no point expecting Kings of Convenience to come back with a bang. The Norwegian duo emerged during the sleepy spell between brash Britpop and the explosive arrival of The Strokes and The White Stripes. With tall, bespectacled Erlend Øye making them look like Napoleon Dynamite & Garfunkel, their soothing harmonies slotted them into a scene clunkily known as the New Acoustic Movement, in which the biggest excitement was Travis’s Fran Healy wondering why it always rained on him. The title of their debut album summed it up in 2001: Quiet is the New Loud.
There was always more to them than that. Øye has DJed extensively, sung with Bergen dance act Röyksopp, and his last solo album was recorded with an Icelandic reggae band. Eirik Glambek Bøe makes dance music with Kommode and teaches architectural psychology, no less. The pair’s fourth album is far from folk, with a bossa nova feel to the energetically plucked guitars of Angel and jazzy violins dancing over Rocky Trail. The single Fever even features – stop the presses! – a drum machine, as well as the pair hitting charming falsettos.
The album also features two welcome appearances from another rarely sighted singer: Leslie Feist, on Catholic Country and Love is a Lonely Thing, the latter a song so intimate that you might feel like you’re intruding by listening to it. While this kind of music can have a tendency to fade into the background, there’s enough going on here to ensure that instead, the inclination is to come closer.