You can say many things about the music performed by Kings of Convenience, but nobody would accuse the songs of not being pretty. Here, the duo rarely utilizes more than an acoustic guitar, a violin and their own vocal chords, but they seem to have found a formula for writing some of the most delicate and soothing music over the last few years. However, this formula seems to have become precisely the problem on their latest album, Declaration of Dependence. While any song picked at random from it would be a perfect lullaby, the project as a whole lacks any kick.
The album’s opener, “24-25,” sets the tone for its remainder — the tranquil guitar strummings and Simon-and-Garfunkel-esque harmonies are indeed quite relaxing. Taken by itself, this is a decent melancholy ballad; it evokes the degree of peace one might feel while laying on a beach. Then, you listen to “Me In You,” “Renegade,” “Freedom and Its Owner,” or one of a half dozen others, and suddenly find yourself unable to distinguish one song from another.
This is not to say that the album is totally devoid of satisfying moments. “Boat Behind” manages to be a little bit more exciting than other songs on the record. Meanwhile, “Peacetime Resistance,” shows that the Kings can still write a catchy hook when they want to. Songs like this are what helped keep their more tender melodies feeling fresh on past albums. Their 2004 effort, Riot on an Empty Street, is serene without becoming listless, and this is due largely to up-tempo songs like “I’d Rather Dance With You.” However, much like lying on a beach, Declaration of Dependence simply gets boring after a while.