Five years after the gorgeous and much loved 'Riot On An Empty Street', the acoustic Norwegian duo return with their third album of sweet, gently plucked guitar tracks with delightful harmonies. 'Declaration of Dependence' is always pleasant, though not mind blowing, and perhaps lacking the level of emotion of its eloquent predecessor.
For fans of mellow acoustic guitars with hints of breezy summer jazz and a continental twist, it's been a long wait for the follow up to 'Riot On An Empty Street', a wait that has put the pressure on Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience to match the grace and sophistication of the 2004 album. Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe have stuck to the formula that works for them – perfectly complimenting vocals and sweet melodies that charm in their simplicity. And while these simple, graceful and nonchalant numbers can be, at their best, enthralling and beguiling, don't expect anything life-altering - there are no surprises here.
The main disappointment, though, is the lack of a heart-wrenching, earth-shattering tear-jerker. But while at no point is Declaration of Dependence as poignant or touching as the Kings' earlier material, that's not to say that there are no though provoking lyrics here. 'Rule My World' challenges the 'morally superior' with lines like 'explain to me one more time, when they kill it's a crime, when you kill it is justice', while 'Freedom and It's Owner' questions the very nature of freedom ('Show a view to someone who chose to live his whole life in cave/He'll raise his arms to protect his eyes from learning').
While the strongest tracks of previous Kings albums were always the ones with the power to make you cry, the strongest here are more upbeat numbers like the funky, offbeat 'Mrs. Cold', which integrates string chords and light piano. Meanwhile, single 'Boat Behind' feels straight out of another world, one where the sun shines and people ride bicycles. Sadly, the second half of this album lulls, and the songs seem to blend into one lullaby-like blur, until the sparse, doleful 'Scars On Land' finally closes buoyantly with incongruously bleak undercurrents.
When all is said and done, there's one thing to be said for Kings of Convenience. What they do, they do well, and that's make great dinner party music.