Kings of Convenience

Riot on an Empty Street

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Riot on an Empty Street ends a long period of inactivity for Kings of Convenience. During their three-year layoff Erlend Øye could be found making solo records and DJing while Eirik Glambek Boe was finishing his psychology degree. Luckily for fans of beautiful vocals and thoughtful indie pop, they decided to get back together. What this band is all about is the sound of Boe and Øye's voices blended together in harmony. Their first album (in both incarnations) erred on the side of consistency. Here the band seems to have learned the all-important lesson of pace and variety. The arrangements are fuller too with pianos, strings, the occasional electric guitar, and lovely guest vocals on two tracks from Broken Social Scene member Leslie Feist. Not to say that they have gone crazy with change. They still stick pretty closely to the acoustic guitars and vocals path, and the tone of the album is autumnal and restrained as before. They have just added more songs like the gently driving "Misread," the lilting waltz "Stay Out of Trouble," and the downright peppy "I'd Rather Dance With You." Øye's side trip into electronica only rears its head on the non-electronic but modern-sounding "Love Is No Big Truth." No matter what the song, though, when their tender, fragile voices harmonize it can be breathtaking. And heartbreaking. The moment in "Surprise Ice" when Eirik is joined by Erland will raise goose bumps. There are many others like that on Riot, and they are what sells the record. If you sort of liked the first record but wished it was more interesting, that it had more punch of both the sonic and emotional variety, then your wishes have come true.

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