Album Review: Peace or Love by Kings of Convenience
Very Good, Based on 3 Critics
musicOMH.com - 80 Based on rating 4
Kings Of Convenience have been on hiatus for 12 years, but from the first note of Peace Or Love, it feels like they’ve never been away. The Norwegian duo were at the forefront of a ‘new acoustic’ movement when their debut album Quiet Is The New Loud was released in 2001, paving the way for polite young men in sensible shirts like Turin Brakes, David Gray and José González to soundtrack dinner parties for the next few years. Over the next decade, Erlend Øye also fronted his own side-project, The Whitest Boy Alive, and worked with artists such as Röyksopp and Schneider TM.
With each year that passed since Kings of Convenience's 2009 album, Declaration of Dependence, their idiosyncratic brand of acoustic folk fell further out of favour with the zeitgeist. The indie folk bands that followed them into the spotlight, from scrappy indie upstarts Fleet Foxes to major label bandwagoners like Mumford and Suns, burst onto the scene and went electric in the years since the Kings' last album dropped.
Built around the ethos of "quiet is the new loud" (also the name of their 2001 debut album) the Norwegian duo challenged their listeners to slow down and shut up to take in the rich details of their hushed vocals and pleasantly strummed guitars, even going as far as asking concert venues to close bars during their sets to minimize noise.
Europeans have mastered the art of taking it easy in a way that elicits American envy--how else to explain the plethora of hygge coffee-table books, the popularity of travel vloggers, and the eternal appeal of striped bateau shirts? In that sense, to describe Kings of Convenience's work as easy listening isn't disparaging. It's simply an acknowledgement that the Norwegian duo's music, particularly Peace or Love, the follow-up to 2009's Declaration of Dependence, makes languid, pleasant pop seem deceptively effortless; the album is so smooth that its seams are barely visible. The record's 11 tracks are a Quaalude dream, a set of gossamer songs so refined that they take on sedative properties.