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After the critical acclaim of their classic debut "Quiet Is the New Loud" The boys reformed with another mellow and languid set of understated classics. The first album was consistent with mostly accoustic guitar as instrumentation. The second record employs more instruments like Viola upright Bass, but essentially its still very much a folk set.
Tracks Summary -
The opening track "Homesick" Sees the Kings slip back into the melancholic downtempo acoustics with aplomb, The dual voices of Eirik and Erlend fuse beautifully together with the guitars, its very powerful and the lyrics touch you 8.5/10
"Misread" This track opens with fingerboard clicking and some squeaking guitar strings with stately violin interludes. The track also has some upright bass and some tinkling ivories. The vocals are again, very hushed and deeply expressive 8.5/10
"Cayman Islands" Is a very plaintive number and also very poignant with just the guitars and some string arrangements. Very powerful and melodic in its simplicity 8/10
"Stay Out Of Trouble" Employs some upright bass and injects a jazzy flavour still a lovely accoustic folk song essentially though, there is a great wistful violin in here it too works well. There are some poignant and well crafted lyrics here. 9/10
"Know-How" Is quite an upbeat track with some finger picked guitars working in harmony, the female vocals work great here too, a very nice little ditty, it even has light drums on here too. 7/10
"Sorry or Please" Features a lovely piano and violin led melody, a very naive sounding groove shuffles along with powerful emotional vocals. Some horns and mandolin particularly work well here 9/10
"Love Is No Big Truth" This tune is quite an upbeat track with electric guitar and some percussion good lyrics gel well with the rhythm here. There is also a mandolin sounding riff which comes in as a jangling counter melody 8/10
"I'd Rather Dance With You" Is an upbeat string and drum led track, a really great track with a good beat and piano lines, you can really get into the swing with this melodic groove. 9.10
"Live Long" Ha along trombone led sound, again with quietly sang vocals and a little piano riff,its very melodic 7/10
"Surprise Ice" Is a beautifully fragile pastoral ballad and definitely a highlight from the set.
The chorus is lovely and has a very Simon & Garfunkel feel to it. The lyrics are very reflective and full of imagery.The track just features two acoustic guitars for the backing. It's really the vocals from Erlend Oye that are quite remarkable and deeply touching. 10/10 (The highlight track)
"Gold In The Air Of Summer" Is another standout track from the album the melody is beautiful and the lyrics descriptive in their memories. There is a lovely swirling piano and trombone. The lyrics "you shine like gold in the air of summer" evoke fleeting golden days in the twilight of summer. Lyrics talking of ships in bottles etc,are just sublime 10/10 (Second Highlight)
The final Track "The Build Up" is a long acoustic meander with Feist on vocals with Erlend. This is the longest track on here,although the girls vocals are nice,the Kings vocals are far better on their own in my opinion. Still a lovely track. 8/10
A thoroughly recommended album. Beautiful instrumentation and vocals, along with well crafted lyrics leave a lasting impression on the listener.
Incidentally the duo released their third record "Declaration Of Dependance" in October 20 2009. This record is also a further venture into their unique mellow folk style balladry, and a continuation of the first two records. I will be reviewing this title in due course.
Post Script -
On a different note Erlend Oye, side projects are quite varied. He has done a series of DJ Kicks albums with compilations of electronic music. He is really very talented and clearly a multi-instrumental musician. He has also done electronic dance projects and electro work with Four Tet, contributed vocals to Royksop and worked with Morgan Geist of Metro Area. A great solo track that Erlend released a few years back came in the form of "Ghost Trains" off his solo record "Unrest" The song is an old school electro led number. with some very dark and industrial soundscapes. Very different to the Kings work but no less exciting and accomplished. This always remained a favorite of mine.
The Kings also released a remix album entitled "Versus"with different remixed versions of the songs by other acts. Indeed a very good track in remixed form and from the first record "Quiet Is The New Loud" is "The Weight Of My Words"
The track is overhauled and reworked with heavy drumbeats and an ambient trip hop like backing, complete with looped samples and ambient sounds. It's an excellent reprise of an already classic track. I urge buyers to also consider this album too.
I have also placed this review on Ciao.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Cayman Islands (Album Version)
4 Stay Out Of Trouble
6 Sorry Or Please
7 Love Is No Big Truth
8 I'd Rather Dance With You
9 Live Long
10 Surprise Ice
11 Gold In The Air Of Summer
12 The Build Up