“I’m more wise now than I was when I was 21 / It’s true I have less time now than I had when I was 21.” Patience is a hard thing to master but it yields rewards. Conveniences, a highly plausible name for super fans of Norwegian folk band Kings of Convenience, have had to wait 12 years for a follow up their third record, 2009’s Declaration of Dependence, and will be pleased to know that Erlend Øye and his harmonic partner Eirik Glambek Bøe sound like they haven’t been away. The duo sound just as in tune with each other vocally and guitar-playing wise, despite the fact that within that decade hiatus, Øye became an Italian citizen and sung in Italian with his formed group La Comitiva.
Due to the familiarity of their sound and how it fits comfortably into their discography, Kings of Convenience followers will see Peace or Love as like hugging a long lost friend and then having a catch-up conversation in a cafe accompanied by coffee or hot chocolate. A trendy cafe that has a guitar in the corner, perhaps. In fact that probably happened during making of this record as KoC brought back former collaborator Feist (whom contributed vocals to KoC’s second album Riot On An Empty Street and Eirik Glambek Bøe in return sung on Canadian musician’s record The Reminder).
So, where have you been and what the hell have you been up to Kings of Convenience? Well, it sounds if they’ve been learning the art of patience. Each album of theirs has had a bigger gap between releases and the content of their fourth record has also been brewing over the last five years; the Norwegians waiting for the perfect moment and perfecting their output. This discipline is something they seemingly teach in the ever experiential and pastoral lyrics.
The helpful guide ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ is a three-part song. Each part sounds like it’s the singer’s own learnt lesson on love. In verse 1 Erlend Øye advises that to gain love, you must also show the object of your affection an exciting part of your life. He then suggests waiting: “Go back to your corner, let them come to you”.
Something that one can imagine is tricky when infatuation often enhances impetuousness. In the second verse Feist then offers her take on timing: “Patience is the hardest thing you have to learn. Hours seem like oceans when desire burns. Rushing in will ruin all, you must bide your time. Sow a seed and water, wait for love to grow.” After Eirik Glambek Bøe’s third verse, the trio join together wonderfully to eulogize love: “Once you’ve known that magic, who can live without it?
‘Rocky Trail’ was a great choice to be Peace or Love’s leading single because the upbeat viola is reminiscence of their previous songs such as ‘Boat Behind’ from their last LP. Effortlessly easing us into their new material. Bøe’s fast singing maintains the good energy that the pacey guitar brings and like on other tracks on Peace or Love, such as the calming José Gonzalez-esque ‘Ask For Help’, he wants to give encouraging wisdom such as: “I feel there is no question about it Almost anything you can imagine. Almost any goal, you will get there.” But on this occasion the receiver – perhaps a former introverted partner – isn’t telling him everything about their problems.
Arguably the most interesting tracks on Peace or Love are ‘Fever’ and ‘Catholic Country’. On the former Erlend Øye adopts a funkier tone to his voice on a song that cleverly compares love to the fluctuating temperature of sickness: “…you feel warm and cold and warm and cold…”. While the latter is a sweet and humble duet with a great sing-along ending. It’s Latin guitars and inquisitive lyrics give it the aura of a holiday romance, which neither party wants to end. The song itself also ends too soon. “It’s one o’clock in the morning. And we’re in an apartment. In the capital city. In a Catholic country. The more I know about you. The more I know I want you. The less I care about who. Was there before I found you.”
The sound of Peace or Love is unapologetically simplistic. It doesn’t break new ground for the band but in this case it’s a good thing. The intertwined harmonies, occasionally jolly strings and two-way guitars is a sound that Kings of Convenience promoted at the beginning of the century and they do it so skillfully on their record. So much so that there are many instrumental sections of the songs that remind us of just how beautiful their performance is. So why change their biggest strengths? It is what their fans have been patiently waiting to hear once again.