Saturday, 12 December 2009

Albums Of The Decade: #19


Only joking.

No, after yesterday's noise and bluster - not from Wolfmother; from people criticising my choices - it's time for something a bit quieter (but probably no less offensive).

Riot On An Empty Street - Kings Of Convenience [2004]


Norwegian nerds Kings Of Convenience are a wonderful oasis of calm in a stressful, shouty world. All gentle acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, they receive a lot - a LOT - of comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel and with some justification, but with their interest in dance music as well as indie folk (best buds with compatriots Röyksopp, dontchaknow) they have more strings to their...guitar.

Riot On An Empty Street sees Kings Of Convenience at their best, even if their most famous song (and admittedly one of their best) Toxic Girl will be found on their debut release, Quiet Is The New Loud. This, their second album, is understated, lyrically superb and wonderfully melodic - if you don't believe me, try the Spotify link (with the previously missing #20 and #21 also there).



Although plugged-in jumpers Love Is No Big Truth and I'd Rather Dance With You (featuring the winning line, "I'll make you laugh by acting like the guy who sings") do stand out, it's naturally the slower tracks that really impress. Gold In The Air Of Summer is a luscious ballad and so is Surprise Ice, while aptly titled closing track The Build Up, featuring gorgeous vocals from Canadian singer Feist, is just excellent - no less.

String-led Stay Out Of Trouble is another cracker, but the album's highlight for me is Sorry Or Please, a heartfelt tale about prison redemption and the possible end of a relationship. Its nervous see-sawing between being fearful and being hopeful - "Your increasingly long embraces: are they saying sorry or please?" - is wondrous in its emotion, as lush strings add further tension.



There's a very sweet shyness in the album's lyrics (again, evident in Toxic Girl) that adds to the general loveliness of it all:

Even if I could hear what you said
I doubt my reply would be interesting for you to hear

Bless, you just want to cuddle them. It's like listening to the quiet kid at the party and finding he's actually really interesting and that smell isn't him at all, it's the food.

Riot On An Empty Street is intelligent, soulful and tender, as well as being the best album for relaxation you'll ever hear. And having just watched The Thick Of It, I think we need it.

Spotify link: #19. Riot On An Empty Street - Kings Of Convenience

Spotify link: #20. Wolfmother - Wolfmother

Spotify link: #21. Shootenanny! - Eels