Though they never really went away, emerging for the occasional live performance or an ill-fated start at an album, Kings of Convenience -- the Norwegian duo of singer/guitarists Erik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye -- nonetheless ended up with a 12-year gap between their Billboard 200-charting fourth album (depending on how you count), Declaration of Dependence, and 2021's Peace or Love. The project's gentle, acoustic-centered approach and sophisticated harmonic textures don't skip a beat, however, on a set that connects the dots between wistful indie pop, airy, syncopated bossa nova, and singer/songwriter folk traditions. Some of the album's standouts include the warm, silky bossa outing "Angel," an eyebrow-raising, whispery ode to an object of affection ("Though she might be/Just slightly/Promiscuous"). The more somber opener "Rumours" showcases the duo's elegant vocal harmonies, while the melancholy, uncertain "Killers" relies on a solo vocal over their interlaced fingerstyle guitar lines. These are further highlighted by pair of duets with Feist; the spacious "Love Is a Lonely Thing" dispenses with vulnerable relationship advice as the singers trade lines, only coming together for the words "Once you've known that magic/Who can live without it?" Later, "Catholic Country," which was co-written with the Staves, offers further Gilberto-inspired stylings and a brisker tempo on a duet softly fleshed out by piano and percussion. While Kings of Convenience don't cover fresh territory with Peace or Love, they do what they do as impeccably as ever here and offer a handful of changeups and hummable tunes along the way. It should serve as a welcome return for any established fans.
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo